Darren Soto

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Hispanic Voter Registration Favors Democrats

Florida snapshot
Hispanic voter registration is up in all of Florida and is much higher among Democrats than other parties.

The numbers are in. How many Hispanics are registered to vote in the August 30 primaries? The figures, calculated by the state Division of Elections, are encouraging.

Hispanic voter registration has climbed in all of Florida since the March presidential primary, with Hispanic Democrats up nearly 9 percent, the highest of any major party registration. That compares to a nearly 6 percent increase among Hispanic Republicans and nearly 4 percent for Hispanic no party affiliation or NPA.

Historically, primaries and mid-term elections – or any election that occurs in a non-presidential year – sees a big drop off in Hispanic voters. Thus, it’s unclear whether the higher Hispanic registration will translate to an uptick in voter participation in the August 30 primaries.

Some notable observations:

CFLA Hispanic VotersThere are more than 3X as many Hispanic Democrats than Republicans in the Orange-Osceola-Seminole county region, an indication of how Latinos are changing the face of Central Florida political parties as well as their potential for  determining election outcomes. (The trend holds true for the state as well. )  

• There are more Hispanic NPA voters in Central Florida than Hispanic Republicans. This is also true for all of Florida. Hispanics voters may need to reassess their preference for NPA status since NPA voters cannot cast ballots in party primaries, where many elections are decided.

For instance, the Democratic winner of the Congressional District 9 primary – State Sen. Darren Soto, Susannah Randolph, Dena Minning Grayson or Valleri Crabtree – essentially will be that area’s next representative in Congress. That’s because Democrats predominate in Congressional District 9 and the Republican field is weak.

Yet, Hispanic voter registration in Congressional District 9 looks like this:  193,000 Hispanic Democrats,  136,473 NPA and 139,318 GOP.  Which means 136,473 Hispanic NPA voters cannot weigh in on that or any other primary election.

Central Florida’s Hispanic voters are mosty Puerto Ricans, since that is the group that predominates among all area Hispanics – 50 percent or more, in fact.

In all of Florida, Latinos are:

•  11.3 percent of all Republican voters.

• 16 percent of all Democrat voters

• 22 percent of all NPA voters. Again, Hispanics signal a higher preference for NPA status.

Although the number of registered Latinos is up, bear in mind that over 2.5 million Hispanics are eligible to vote in Florida, but only 1.8 million are registered. About 28 percent of Hispanics are not registered, which means there is room to grow.

Florida Hispanic Voters

A quick look at Miami-Dade shows that:

• The number of Hispanic Democrats is approaching that of Republicans, 230,517 vs. 267,881. And growth rate among Hispanic Democrats vs. Republicans in Miami-Dade mirrors that of the state, 8 percent vs. 3 percent.

Which means it’s entirely plausible that Hispanic Democrats in Miami-Dade may soon  surpass Hispanic Republicans.This is bad news for Republicans, since the days of Hispanic GOP dominance in Florida are waning.

A big BUT: A  lot depends on voter turnout. Hispanic Republicans often are more motivated to vote than Hispanic Democrats, a determining factor in election results.

Despite what is happening at the state level, however, Miami-Dade will continue to be dominated by Hispanic Republicans. About 53 percent of all Hispanic GOP voters in Florida reside in Miami-Dade. This explains why in the March presidential primary Sen. Marco Rubio lost the entire state of Florida – except for Miami-Dade.

His lack of popularity among non-Cuban Hispanics also helps explain why Rubio appears to be spending more time in Central Florida lately. He was at Telemundo’s Feria de la Familia this weekend in Kissimmee. And the Senate Leadership Fund’s July $1.4 million ad buy for Rubio (broadcast and cable) focused on Central Florida:

Orlando $759,692
Tampa: $667,800

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

 

Election Season Heats Up

The election season is heating up as we close in on the August primaries and march toward the November election, which is less than three months away.

Campaign developments are coming fast and furious. Here are some local, state and national campaign notes that caught my eye.

Florida GOP Spokesman Resigns

Wadi Gaitan
Wadi Gaitán left the state GOP, taking issue with Donald Trump’s stand on immigration and other issues. / photo Wadi Gaitán-Twitter

Wadi Gaitán, communications director of the Florida Republican Party, left his post this week over differences of opinion with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. He has joined the LIBRE Initiative, a Koch brothers-led effort to attract more Hispanics to the conservative cause.

It’s big news because it indicates the GOP daily defections from Trump occurring on the national level is giving permission – and cover – to state officials to do the same without major pushback from the Republican Party.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Gaitán said he “was avoiding efforts that support Trump.”

The LIBRE Initiative, Gaitán’s new employer, disagrees with Trump too, especially on immigration. Executive Director Dan Garza had a sharp exchange with party leaders on national public television over immigration during the Republican National Convention. LIBRE favors a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, among other policies. Trump does not, pushing instead for deportation and building a wall along the Mexican border.

Gaitán had been Florida GOP communications director since 2015.

Earlier this year, some Central Florida Hispanic Republicans complained to Orlando Latino that the state GOP had dismantled outreach to the Hispanic community. Gaitán’s resignation completes the circle.

Fellow blogger Evelyn Pérez Verdía of Political Pasión makes an excellent point: While the state Republican Party lost their Hispanic spokesperson, the Florida Democratic Party never hired one.

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Democrats Driven to Distraction in District 9

Randolph - Soto
Democratic Congressional District 9 candidates Susannah Randolph and Darren Soto. /official campaign photos

A decade-old college comedy skit landed congressional District 9 candidate Darren Soto in an embarrassing position last week as his Democrat primary opponent Susannah Randolph seized the information, sending it to her supporters.

The story, reported by Gawker and picked up by Politico, refers to a comedy-music skit rap titled “2-Luv” that talks about Soto’s male organ – this must be the election season for this topic – and having sexual relations with a drunk woman, a subject of many college campus disputes and even federal regulations regarding non-consensual campus sex.

““As you may have heard by now, Senator Darren Soto wrote a disgusting and sexually explicit song during his time as a law student,” states Randolph, a former congressional staffer who has focused her campaign on women and gender equity. “The song depicted non-consensual sexual acts.”

State Senator Soto released a statement admitting that he penned the words but has moved on. “As a college student over a decade ago I did write a song for a comic skit among a co-ed comedy troupe that was in poor taste. But, the fact is that in public life I have been a responsible, consistent and effective advocate for women,” he said. “I led the fight to double the statute of limitations for victims of sexual violence and against the regressive 24 hour waiting period bill that would have diluted a woman’s right to choose. In Congress, I’ll do even more by fighting for pay equity and against Republican efforts to cut health care and defund Planned Parenthood.”

A number of Soto’s female supporters, including his wife Amanda Soto, chimed in, a move reminiscent of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal in which prominent women defended Clinton’s sexual dalliances, citing his pro-women policies.

“As a proud pro-choice woman, I can tell you that Darren is second to no one when it comes to standing up for our rights,” wrote Amanda. “Darren gets it.  He knows that there is work to be done when it comes to securing a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work, to making her own health care decisions, and on so many other fronts.”

Other prominent Orlando Hispanics defended Soto on social media, including local activist Zoraida Ríos-Andino and Vivian Rodríguez, president of the Hispanic Democratic Caucus of Florida.

Soto and Randolph are running neck-and-neck in District 9, with the candidates generating similar financial support – raising about $162,000 each in the first quarter ended March – and compiling political endorsements.

Soto and Randolph aside, however, sexual politics appear to be making the Democratic campaign rounds lately, as Latina actress Rosario Dawson also invoked Monica Lewinsky while stumping for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Delaware. “We are literally under attack — not just for supporting the other candidate,” Dawson said. “I’m with Monica Lewinsky on this. Bullying is bad.”

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor