With Florida’s governor Rick Scott and former governor Charlie Crist virtually tied, Hispanic voters in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties could determine who wins the state’s gubernatorial race.
Such a close race is apparently a good enough reason to choose Hispanic running mates—one Republican and one Independent.
In February, the Republican candidate Rick Scott made the Cuban American politician Carlos Lopez-Cantera the first Hispanic lieutenant governor of Florida. Carlos previously served an eight-year term in the state Legislature representing Miami-Dade County.
His ability to speak Spanish will help Rick Scott’s administration in conveying a message effectively through Spanish-language media. According to experts, Lopez-Cantera can solidify Scott’s support with Cuban-American voters in Miami-Dade, the largest Hispanic base in Florida.
Four years ago, Scott narrowly won the Hispanic vote by a 50 percent to 48 percent margin over the opponent of the time, Alex Sink, because he managed to secure 68 percent of the Cuban American vote in Miami-Dade.
To counter Rick Scott’s selection, Charlie Crist announced in July that the Miami-Dade Democratic Party chief, and state party vice-chairwoman Annette Taddeo-Goldstein was his choice for lieutenant governor.
Annette is a Colombian-American businesswoman. She ran for political office twice before joining the Democratic Party. She lost to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2008 and lost the Miami-Dade County Commission seat in 2010. Two years later, Taddeo-Goldstein became instrumental in helping the Obama campaign win Hispanic voters in Florida. She is a candidate who appeals to the non-Cuban Hispanic voters, a majority of whom are Democrats.
According to two state polls published by Survey USA and the New York Times, 49 percent of Hispanics favored the former governor, Charlie Crist over the current governor, Rick Scott. However, Crist’s popularity amongst the Cuban-American voters dropped during the first six months of his campaign.
In April, the polls showed that Scott led Crist by 52 to 46 percent amongst Cuban-Americans. However, a poll in late August found that Cuban-Americans had begun to favor Scott over Crist by 63 to 30 percent.
“My suspicion is that there is not much enthusiasm for Crist among Democrats,” says Nelson Diaz, Miami-Dade’s Republican Party leader, “But if anyone can get a good Democratic turnout, it’s Annette.”