Candidates of the Democratic party and the Republican party took their different messages to Hispanic communities in Orlando and Miami this weekend with the intention to earn a good portion of this important vote.
The strategy is key to winning in the upcoming elections on November 2 the vacant seat in the Senate by Florida, after the withdrawal last year of the Cuban-American Mel Martinez.
Currently, there are 1.4 million Hispanic voters in Florida, which is approximately 12.5% of all registered voters in the state. The Democratic Party has 542.384 (38%) Hispanic supporters, while Republicans counted 441.158 (31.5%) in its ranks. This leaves more than 400,000 votes Hispanics in the air.
The Latino vote is at stake because none of the three candidates for the seat of Florida in Washington has been able to consolidate a permanent advantage. Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio seek to consolidate these bases with different messages: Meek promotes immigration reform, while Rubio emphasizes his Cuban-American family.
The difference is key. A study by the Pew Hispanic Center, 34% of Latino voters in Florida are Cuban, Puerto Rican 29%, and 37% of Central and South America. Surveys show that Cubans and Puerto Ricans do not consider immigration as an important issue, compared to Central and South Americans, because they have a definite advantage and immigration status.
However, most Hispanics believe that the Democratic Party is more concerned about the problems of the community and could give a victory to the candidate of that party if they go to the polls.
Although Rubio clearly outstrips its two rivals in general surveys, there is a definite leader among the Hispanic vote. A Mason Dixon poll, which was criticized as unscientific, Rubio gave 70% of the Hispanic vote a few weeks ago. But another Asisa Research Group poll released on Oct. 7 reveals that Governor Charlie Crist (no party affiliation) won 37.8% of the vote. Rubio and Meek received 28.9% and 11.1% respectively, with 22% still undecided.
Six in 10 Hispanic voters live in Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange, where Orlando is located. It was precisely near Orlando that Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek met with members of the Latino community in a Puerto Rican social club. He was accompanied by fellow Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
Gutierrez, of Puerto Rican descent, is representative of Chicago and vocal advocate of a comprehensive immigration reform. A year ago, he introduced a bill that would create a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants in the US House
In Orlando, speaking in Spanish and English, Gutierrez told a group of about 20 people that immigration should matter to all Hispanics that at some point all were immigrants.
“Kendrick and I will ensure that we have the necessary votes in the Senate and House to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Gutierrez said. He would see to that undocumented workers as people working in the field, open businesses and go to church, he added. “You want someone who (sees undocumented) as we see, or want someone who sees them as shown on Fox News, as someone dangerous who come here to hurt.”
Meanwhile, Meek wanted to follow a strategy that began using last week: Pointing candidate Marco Rubio as a representative of the extreme right and not Hispanic community. In particular, he sought to link Rubio with Senator of South Carolina, Jim DeMint, who supports Rubio money and is a proponent of that English is the official language of the country, a move that could prohibit the distribution of government information ( as election flyer) in Spanish.
“Rubio will take your orders and Jim DeMint (former Vice President) Dick Cheney and the right wing of the Republican party,” Meek said. “(Sonia) Sotomayor is a perfect example. Marco Rubio said she was not prepared for the court. He decided to side with the Republican Party and the Tea Party. “
Instead Rubio, son of Cuban immigrants, speaking in front of many Cuban friends West Miami where he grew up and now lives, defined the election as a momentous decision between remain the “largest in the history of humanity” or Cuba country.
“In this country we are at a historic moment,” Rubio said. “A time when our people have to decide whether we will remain a special country … or we will follow in the footsteps of countries where people escape that can no longer live there. That is the decision before us. “
This speech is different than Rubio gave during his tour bus along the state last week. In those speeches, Rubio made an emphasis on family history but spent the bulk of his speech to the issue of national deficit, national debt, job creation and opposition to health care reform President Barack Obama.
Rubio did not touch any of those issues in his speech at Cooper Park. But it was palpante the energy generated among the 400 attendees, most of Cuban descent. The biggest applause was won by the Republican Congressman David Rivera, who is also a candidate for the same post in the 25th district, when he added another factor that could be definitive for Cubans when voting.
“We will have the opportunity to choose the first Cuban-American born here,” said Rivera, “which could even be President of the United States.”