District 9

4 posts

Good Primary Elections for Latinos

Soto and Cortes
It was a good primary election for John Cortés (l) and Darren Soto, shown campaigning together in Kissimmee before the election. / Soto-Facebook

It was a good primary elections for many Hispanic candidates in Central Florida. From Osceola to Seminole counties,  Hispanic candidates established “firsts” for the Latino community in a sign that the Florida Supreme Court-imposed congressional redistricting evened the political playing field.

Florida voter turnout of nearly 24 percent also was good, higher than the 21 percent recorded in 2012, also a presidential election year. However, Central Florida  turnout was lower than the state average. Seminole came closest with a 22.6 percent primary turnout, followed by Osceola (20.8 percent). In an unusual move, Orange County trailed both with an 18 percent turnout.

No details yet on the Hispanic voter turnout, which often is low for primary and mid-term elections.

Here’s an analysis of how Hispanic candidates fared.

U.S. Senate

Republican incumbent Marco Rubio won handily against millionaire Carlos Beruff, a Donald Trump acolyte, proving that there is only one Donald Trump and imitators need not apply.  Rubio deserves mention as well because he is seriously courting Central Florida Latinos – he celebrated his win in Puerto Rican-heavy Osceola. Many  Puerto Ricans are turned off by Rubio’s vote against Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, his on-again, off-again immigration reform and flip flopping on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. But Rubio needs to win the I-4 corridor in November.

Finally tally: Rubio won by 74 percent in Orange and 71 percent in Osceola, two Democratic counties – well ahead of Beruff as well as the man who would be his Democratic rival Cong. Alan Grayson, who in turn lost the primary to Patrick Murphy.  Grayson proved unpopular even on his home turf.

Congressional District 9

State Sen. Darren Soto was the big winner in a crowded Democratic field that included Dena Minning Grayson, wife of current Cong. Grayson; as well as Grayson’s former district director Susannah Randolph. However, Dena Grayson and Randolph appeared to cancel each other out, opening the way for Soto, who was financially competitive and campaigned hard among Latinos.

Interesting aside, a big loser is Osceola County Commissioner Viviana Janer, the first Latina and Puerto Rican on the County Commission who endorsed Randolph over Soto. Janer didn’t prove to have any coattails for Randolph to ride.

Soto is nearly assured a win in November against Republican Wayne Liebnitzky in a district drawn to favor Democrats, potentially becoming the first Puerto Rican from Florida to go to Congress.

Final tally: Soto won 44 percent of the vote in Osceola – about double that of Grayson and Randolph – and 38 percent in Orange, or five points ahead of Randolph and 15 points ahead of Grayson.

A note about Val Demings, the resounding winner (57 percent) of the Democratic primary in Congressional District 10. This redrawn district contains about an equal ratio of black (25 percent) and Hispanics ( 21 percent). It bears watching for Latinos as well.

STATE

State Senate District 15-State House District 48

Father-daughter team of State. Rep. Víctor Torres and Amy Mercado won their respective primary races for State Senate District 15 (includes parts of Orange and Osceola) and State House District 48 (Orange), respectively. A November win, which is likely in these two Democratic districts, would make the duo the first father-daughter legislators in Florida.

Final tally: Torres won 67.7 percent of Orange and 56 percent of Osceola, while Mercado earned 60 percent in Orange.

State House District 43

Meanwhile, John Cortés easily held onto State House District 43 against the man who once held the seat, Ricardo Rangel, despite old allegations of a domestic dispute between Cortés and his daughter. This proves that Cortés’s overwhelming win over Rangel in 2014 was no fluke. Osceola doesn’t like Rangel. Cortés is a likely shoo-in in November in this Democratic district.

Final tally: Cortés 42 percent, Rangel 29 percent.

Osceola Clerk

Incumbent Armando Ramírez managed to hold onto to the Osceola Clerk of the Court, despite some stumbles and bad publicity early in his term, including charges of nepotism and the firing of employees, proving that either Ramirez has righted his ship or Osceola likes Ramírez.

Final tally: Ramirez 42.4 percent vs. 37 percent for John Overstreet.

Kissimmee Mayor

The battle for who will be the first Hispanic mayor of Kissimmee spilled into the November election, as Kissimmee Commissioners José Alvarez and Art Otero head for a runoff. This guarantees an already ugly battle will get more vicious. Otero is attempting to disqualify Alvarez from the race and reminds voters that he is the Puerto Rican candidate. Alvarez is Cuban-American.

Final tally:  Alvarez 45.7 percent, Otero 41.6 percent.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

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.

Continue reading

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