Thought Provoker: Dr. Susan MacManus, Distinguished Professor

It is a pleasure to have Dr. Susan MacManus as a “Thought Provoker” on Political Pasión.  These “Thought Provokers” are individuals (or a group) that make a difference in our community and challenge us to do the same.

I have always had very high respect for Dr. MacManus as Distinguished University Professor from my alma mater, The University of South Florida.  She also serves as Survey Director for and is highly sought to give her opinion on politics in Florida. Here is what Dr. MacManus had to say about the 2014 Florida gubernatorial race:

Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “Here we are with Dr. Susan MacManus from the University of South Florida. Dr. MacManus, can you tell us why the Hispanic vote is so important in this gubernatorial election?”

Dr. MacManus: “This race is tied right now and 14.5 percent of all of the registered voters in Florida are Hispanic.  So clearly they can make a difference in who wins or loses this race.  It is also true that Hispanics now outnumber African American voters in the state and are on the rise; but it is also true that the Hispanic voters are not always cohesive; they differ by country of origin– they are very fascinating to study.  But let me tell you this, there is not better proof of the power of the Hispanic vote than the fact that each of the two candidates selected a Hispanic running mate.   That pretty much says it all.”

Florida Gubernatorial Debate in Spanish on Telemundo

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

This November 2014, we will select our next governor of Florida. The candidates are Charlie Crist ( ) and Rick Scott ( Both of them have their website in Spanish. Today, October 10, 2014 as well as their stations in Tampa, Orlando, Naples/Ft. Myers and South Florida will be presenting the debate in Spanish at 7:00 p.m.  You will also be able to watch it in English at

I was present at the debate today and want to encourage you to watch it.  You will be able to find clear differences between both candidates on many topics such as the Cuban Embargo and Medical Marijuana.  This is your opportunity listen to both sides and come to a decision of who you would like to vote for.  As Hispanics, we can only make educated decisions by being informed and getting involved.  It does not matter who you vote for, but please get involved and vote!

As you view the debate, you can give your opinion through Twitter by going to @telemundo51 #t51debate

I was able to ask Republican candidate and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Democratic Candidate for Lt. Gov. Anette  Taddeo why it is important for Hispanics to go out and vote.  Please see videos below (Spanish):

First Political Workshop for Hispanic Journalists in Florida

Taller Politica

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

I am proud to share that Political Pasión along with launched  the First Political Workshop for Hispanic Journalists in Florida.  The focus was the upcoming 2014 November elections. The event was in Spanish and had the attendance of over 40  Hispanic journalists.

Our first non-partisan workshop explained to journalists how politics and government works in this beautiful country that has embraced us. The focus of our workshops is to be empowered with information to incentivize Hispanics to go out and vote in a responsible and conscious manner.

We hope that this first workshop will be one of many that will contribute to a better understanding of politics and government in the United States by journalists of Hispanic media sources.

Our presenters were:

  • Evelyn Pérez Verdia, Founder of Political Pasión
  • Carolina López, Spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Elections Office
  • Mayra Macias, Spokesperson and  South Florida Political Director, The Florida Democratic Party.
  • Jaime Florez, Spokesperson and Hispanic Communications Director, The Republican Party of Florida
  • Annie Betancourt, Board Member,  The League of Women Voters of Florida
  • Freddy Avalos, President and Rafael Lopez, Board Member, The Hispanic Vote
  • Carolina González, Spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union

The workshop took place on Tuesday, September 30th from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the EB Hotel, Orchid room (4299 NW 36th St. Miami Springs, FL 33166).

The Hispanic Vote: The Largest Minority Voting Bloc in Florida

Hispanic family outside home

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

The most recent voter registration numbers as of July 28, 2014 show that there are 1,705,985 Hispanics registered to vote in Florida in the upcoming elections. 14% of the 11, 807,507 Florida registered voters are Hispanic, making us the largest minority voting bloc in Florida.  We surpassed the African American vote in Florida by 100,000.  However, our numbers are possibly higher due to the fact that the voter registration applications did not start including the term Hispanic until after 1995 on the voting registration application.  In addition, to this day, it is optional to place if you are Hispanic or not.

The five largest counties with registered Hispanics are:

 710,446 in Miami Dade County

190,322 in Broward County

153,387 in Orange County

113,380 in Hillsborough County

81,641 in Palm Beach County

This makes South Florida the most populous area of Hispanic voters in Florida.  In addition, we see why the Hispanic vote is the swing vote for the upcoming 2014 elections.

466,778 Hispanics are Republicans, 652,784 are Democrats and 558,707 have No Party Affiliation. There are only 20,831 registered as Independents.  Due to the differences in cultural, political and social beliefs, it is very difficult to know how Hispanics are going to sway.  The Hispanic vote is one of the few votes that campaigns will need to fight for.

You may ask; why such a large amount of No Party Affiliation?  My theory?  When I was spokeswoman at the Supervisor of Elections office in Broward County, the Voter Education and Outreach team would go to the Naturalization ceremonies to register new citizens.  Many new citizens did not know what it meant to be a Republican or Democrat, so they opted to place No Party Affiliation when they registered.  We live in a society where many Hispanics do not understand the beliefs of the two strongest parties that exist in the United States.  Another theory is that those Hispanics, who do understand the political parties, are tired of promises, pandering and punishment and have changed their affiliation from a specific party to focusing on what a person has to give as a candidate.  Hispanics, even when they are associated with a certain party, vote for the person and not the party.  Although many may not understand what their political views are, they do get brownie points for being charismatic, Hispanic and for being verbal in regards to the issues that matter to Hispanics.  Others just want a candidate that stands up for his or her beliefs.

Continue reading

Annette Taddeo-Goldstein: A Clear Sign The Florida Democratic Party Is Changing

Annette Taddeo

Annette Taddeo-Goldstein

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Updated July 20, 2014

Three days before Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist announced his pick for Lieutenant Governor, through Twitter I stated that Crist would pick a woman, and if he was wise she would be Hispanic.  Hours before news came out that Crist had picked Colombian-American, Annette Taddeo-Goldstein as his running mate, I had predicted that he would pick an African American woman to be his running mate.  It was a major “foot in mouth” moment for me.  However, as a Hispanic and former Democrat, I must confess that I did not expect anything less from the Democratic Party.  For many years I saw how the Democratic Party would constantly leave Hispanics out from high positions and were not supported when they ran for political office. I felt like Taddeo mentioned herself: “too many people across Florida are feeling left out and behind.”  I felt that we as Hispanics had been left behind by the Florida Democratic Party. It is one of the reasons that in the beginning of 2010 I decided to become NPA ( No Party Affiliation).  In addition, just like many NPA Hispanics, I became tired of the political parties. I decided I would not vote for the party, I decided to vote for the best person regardless of political affiliation.

The strategy for years of the Florida Democratic Party was to always pick and support an Anglo Saxon Man.  Finally when they became more progressive and saw that the majority of this minority group favored them, they finally opened up and started including African Americans.  The Florida Democratic Party year after year has made the same decision in midterm elections. In 2010, Alex Sink picked Rod Smith.  In 2006, Jim Davis picked Darryl Jones (First and only African American).  In 2002,  Bill McBride picked Tom Rossin. In 1998, Buddy Mackay and Rick Dantzler. 1994 and 1990, Lawton Chiles and buddy Buddy Mackay. The list of white Anglo Saxon Males as the choice for the Democratic Party goes on to the day that the position of Lieutenant Governor was created in Florida. While the Florida Democratic Party continued with the same choices, in 1986 Republicans and Floridians had already embraced a Hispanic as governor, Bob Martinez.  After over almost half a century of the same, I never imagined 2014 would be the year it would finally change. Hispanics finally caught the Florida Democratic Party’s eye for a statewide gubernatorial election.

Continue reading

July 4th should mean something to us all

Business man with USA flag t-shirtBy Evelyn Perez-Verdia

This July 4th many Hispanics are ready to show their passion and love for their country.  They are ready to cry as they sing the national anthem.  However, their tears will not be shed for the Independence of America.  Instead, they will be showing their passion, their love for the Game of futbol (or as Americans call it, soccer).  Especially Colombians who will all be dressed in the colors of their flag and will be celebrating that they have advanced to the final eight teams for the first time in Colombia’s World Cup history.  On July 4th they will be playing against Brazil.  Colombia will proudly stand for the national anthem and sing the words that they have memorized since childhood.

So much passion exists in Hispanics and yet, so little passion when it comes to the politics of the United States. When the World Cup starts some Hispanics even take vacation time to see the games.  However, they do not take the time to go and vote here in the United States.  When talking to Hispanics many say it is because they do not feel connected to this new place they have decided to live in, but not a place that they can call home.

July 4th is a day that we as Hispanics might take as a reason to have a party.  However, as Hispanics we should always remember that we are in a land where immigrants of many places shed their blood so that we could have the liberty to pursue our own happiness.  Men and women who have  fought so that our children could have a better future and could have the right to vote.

We should also remember not to take this country for granted.  It is difficult for me to see as a Hispanic how many Hispanics live in this country and have absolutely no connection with what it means to be part of this country.  They are here for the opportunities, but their hearts stay in their homeland.  This is one of the sad reasons why sometimes Americans dislike us so much.  Because they feel that many Hispanics have no respect for the country we live in.  We show no interest in participating in the process.  It is our responsibility to change the way Americans view us.  It is time as Hispanics to make a decision: Are you an American or are you someone from your country just living in America?

The moment we understand that we are not betraying our country of birth by being an American, will be the day that we will create a sense of love for America.  It is time to have a sense of love for the American flag that has embraced us.

On this July 4th, the Independence Day of the United States, we must remember to be grateful for the opportunity to be part of this beautiful country.  This day, as Hispanics, let’s remember that our hearts are big enough to love two countries, and have some space for soccer too.

How to win the Hispanic vote

Family reading a newspaper

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

I hardly watch Television in Spanish, but you can find me switching from one Spanish radio station to another in my car.  I am usually with my children sitting at our local Colombian restaurant picking up Nuestra Ciudad Weston, a local community paper in Spanish and English that tells me what is going on in my city or checking to see what is the latest Tweet sent by  I am a concerned and dedicated voter, but I have never seen a candidate advertise in these local papers.  Hopefully, this article will help campaigns change their mind.  

I remember being 22 years old and being the campaign manager for a state house incumbent in a prominent Hispanic district in Tampa, Florida.  There was a consultant who would come weekly to inform me what I needed to do in the week with our team.  I still remember the media outlets in Spanish that he picked for the campaign were: La Gaceta Newspaper, Univision and a couple of radio stations in Spanish Now, Tampa as well as the rest of Florida’s Hispanic population has grown and the media outlets have grown with it, but the question is: are consultants continuing to advise campaigns to use the same media outlets in Spanish that were used in 2002?  Are the consultants ignoring the rest of local community media outlets that currently exist?  Do they not understand the value of the Hispanic media outlets and the local community papers in SpanishIs it time to update the Rolodex?  

Angelette Aviles a Republican businesswoman and a communications consultant certainly thinks so.  She believes that campaigns are not getting the big picture.  She says: Political consultants are good at making brochures, mailers, canvassing, etc. and fail to hire a communications expert to focus on the Hispanic market. Consultants have no up to date Rolodex on media contacts or the experience to drum up publicity to garner the attention of those media contacts.”

It is likely that whoever attracts the Hispanic vote in this upcoming 2014 Florida gubernatorial election, will be the winner of the race.  The objective of consultants should be to attract the vote of over 1.6 million Hispanic registered voters that exist in Florida.   If you want to be the winner in your race, this is what you need to do to win the Hispanic vote:                                     

1.  Hire a Bilingual communications consultant.

Orlando Nieves, general manager of Centro Mi Diario, a print and digital paper in Spanish that delivers FREE to more than 67,000 Hispanics in Tampa Bay (Pasco, Pinellas & Hillsborough Counties) had a good point in regards to why political campaigns are not reaching out to Hispanic media outlets like his:  “Not every market has a widely circulated publication and it requires buying many small ones which the media buyers may not be familiar with.  Also, the lack of a strong bilingual campaign person affects the strategy of the candidate.  Unless they can understand the medium it’s difficult for them to buy into it.”

Campaigns now need to hire dedicated people who truly know the community leaders and media in Spanish, who can return a call to the media in Spanish and answer their questions, that can translate a press release and get in touch with the Hispanic/Latino community in their language and with knowledge of their culture.  It is like me trying to reach out to the Russian community in Broward and making myself an expert at this.  Consultants need to work together with consultants whose expertise is engaging the Hispanic community through the media outlets that exist. I am one of many political consultants focused on the Hispanic community.  It seems many of us are not being subcontracted by consultants or being used in statewide political campaigns.  

2. Do not ignore local community papers in Spanish.

Editor Rafael Palacio from the newspaper in Spanish: El Sentinel of Orlando which has more than 130,000 weekly copies that are distributed mainly to homes in five counties of CentralFlorida, mentions that a great majority of the readers of the papers are people who truly do vote and should not be ignored.  

“Both campaigns (Crist and Scott) have inundated us with e-mails and information, but in a very cold manner.  Both let us know that they have websites in Spanish.  However, when we tried to contact them for more details, they did not respond to us.  Then I sent them information about an event we were having, a round table discussion about Immigration Reform, neither campaign responded to us.  It is very sad.”

Similar words I have heard from other Hispanic media outlets for years in reference to statewide political campaigns approach to Hispanic media outlets.  Most feel that they have either been abused of by wanting free editorials and for the media to publish their press releases.  However, when the media asks for advertisement or for an interview, the other side of the telephone goes silent.  When they ask to interview the candidate, they do not get a response back. Don’t be this type of campaign.  Invest in advertisements with the local community papers and respond back to their e-mails.   

3.  Advertisements in Spanish for Television is important, but very expensive. Try radio and print also.

When looking at the Scott and Crist campaign, Scott has a Hispanic communications director that focuses solely on the Hispanic media and has the funds to pay for advertisement.  Actually, when you ask the Hispanic media outlets, who is reaching out to them, they are stating that Scott’s campaign is constantly reaching out vs. the Crist campaign.  It is savy for the Crist campaign to invest in the local papers and the radio as it is more economical than Television.  Since we are possibly more than 15% of the registered vote in Florida, statewide campaigns should be investing 15% of their media budget into the Hispanic media outlets.

If you add up the circulation numbers for Spanish print, you are dealing with a source that campaigns have left untouched for years and could create a shift in the amount of Hispanics that show up to vote.  In addition, print newspapers in Spanish are the gatekeepers of the Hispanic community.   Rafael Palacio from El Sentinel Orlando mentions: “Why do you invest in Television, but us, who are INVADED with your press releases, who ask us to cover your events…we need to make clear that it is not about if you place an ad in my paper then I will cover your event, and if you don’t, I will not cover it.  That is not how it works.  It is about being aware of your public and the different types of voters, and that your advertising budget should reflect a larger diversity of the media outlets.

4.Print papers reach different distribution points in Florida and have a longer shelf life

Jolie Gonzalez, owner of Latin Times magazine and also a community leader who is currently the president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay, has a statewide publication where her strongest distribution points are Metro Orlando, Tampa Bay – I-4 Corridor, and South Florida. She distributes: 25,000 Print Editions. She also has her e-Magazine and Mobile magazine, same as print, but longer shelf life and typically ends up with 50,000-75,000 readers.

“It is important to build relationships with the media outlets targeting Hispanics, because we are small business owners, and we are specializing in communicating and reaching this niche market in specific.  If you are looking to reach and communicate with the Hispanic/Latino community -then you should be utilizing the media tools that they read. Jolie said.

Could this be why the Democratic Party has not won the Hispanic vote in gubernatorial race since Jim Davis ran for governor in 2006? 

Albert Einstein once said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”   The strategy that is being done over and over again is not working, but could change if campaigns hire a good consultant who knows the Hispanic leaders, the media outlets in Spanish and their community. It is time to stop ignoring the Hispanic media outlets.  It is time to start respecting them as the gatekeepers of the Hispanic community and placing ads in their papers.  It sends a message to the community that you care.  Whoever listens and starts being proactive in this arena will open the gates to becoming the next governor of Florida or the next winner of their raceRegardless which party affiliation you are with, don’t be insane-change the strategy!

Tips On Winning The Hispanic Vote

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Tip: if running a statewide campaign, 15% of your media budget should be focused on Hispanic media outlets. We are 15% or more of the vote. Remember to not only invest in TV, but also print and radio. Do not forget about our local community papers in Spanish–they are the gatekeepers to the Hispanic community. I also mention some other things to keep in mind for the upcoming election season.

Are You For Or Against Legalizing Medical Marihuana?

 By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

The finger puppet’s name is Señor Dedo Politico (Mr. Political Finger).  I created him to give a different view to politics.   I have many friends that hear me speak about politics and find it absolutely boring.  They tell me that they don’t like politics, they are immune to it, and sadly enough, they are the ones who also don’t vote when they are U.S. citizens and could.  I want to captivate them and make politics fun.  I want to remind those that dislike politics that voting allows you to have a voice.  The choice to legalize or not medical marihuana will be on the Florida voting ballot this upcoming General Election. This is my way of saying to those that do not vote that politics matters and we can have a say in it.

Sr. Dedo Politico Marihuana



The Lack of Understanding of Political Parties

There is a large percentage (29%) of Hispanics/Latinos that are registered to vote in Florida with no political party affiliation (NPA). If you ask an election worker about their interaction with new citizens when registering them to vote, many can tell you that the new voters decide to have no political affiliation because many do not know what each party stands for. How can we educate the voter on the different parties that exist?

Others may not choose to be part of a party as they believe more in people than in parties.  Hispanics in general tend to vote for the person and not the party. Although, I do know many people who do not know what each political party’s beliefs are.  Some also choose a party due tradition and to the family being from the same party affiliation.  Others choose a party because they are told that it is the party that represents Hispanics.   As a Hispanic, I can say that there is not a specific party that represents us as Hispanics.  Everything depends on how we grew up, on our values.   Do we believe that government should be more or less involved in our lives?  I liked the following website called Diffen in reference to the differences between the Republicans vs. Democrats.

Due to the lack of understanding that exists, I asked two people who are very involved in the two largest political parties of the U.S.A.  to share with us why they are a Democrat and a  Republican.  I want to thank them for taking the time to explain why they are faithful to the party they represent.

President of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida.

Vivian Rodriguez: President of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida.

Why Am I a Democrat?

By Vivian Rodríguez

Being a Democrat is who I am and represents the values and beliefs I stand for and hold dear. Everyone is equal in this great nation and there are no exceptions to the rule. Everyone should be respected and celebrated for their diversity and contributions to society. We all deserve a fair shot in achieving equality and no American should ever face discrimination on the basis of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or sexual orientation.

Traditionally, the Democratic Party has advocated for the rights of the underprivileged and middle class. We stand up for the civil rights of everyone living in this country, including the immigrant community. Democrats support comprehensive immigration reform that will boost our economy and build a stronger more representative nation. Through the Dream Act, young immigrants will be able to become legal residents and citizens, contributing to the fabric of our nation.

We believe in laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace, housing, and the disenfranchisement of voting rights. We support the Equal Rights Amendment, Employment Non Discrimination Act, American Jobs Act, and Affordable Health Care. We must strive to protect the rights and socio-economic conditions of our fellow Americans by affording them accessible quality health care and the expansion of Medicaid throughout the state of Florida.

Through the Affordable Health Care Act, families will be able to keep their college-bound children on their parents’ insurance plans and insurance companies will no longer be able to refuse to cover their children because of pre-existing medical conditions. Many women will be eligible to receive preventive services for cancer screenings, annual checkups, contraception, and will not be charged a higher premium than men because of their gender. I believe that women should have the right to choose in their personal decisions without having any governmental interference. Democrats believe in helping our seniors by safeguarding their contribution to Social Security and making Medicare stronger by adding new benefits and eliminating fraudulent claims.

Democrats believe that every student has a right to a quality public education system that provides the American dream of prosperity. We must provide college students with affordable tuition options through student loans, Pell Grants, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. I believe we must support our American workers with strong labor laws. Americans should have the right to organize and lobby for an increase in the state minimum wage, paid sick leave, and health insurance.

Democrats believe in our veterans by passing the post 911 G.I. Bill, supporting our troops who return home with job opportunities and providing them with specialized health care assistance. They are the true heroes who keep our country safe from harm and continue to protect our country and the rights that you exercise in this great nation. I am proud to be an American and even though we may not be a perfect nation, I enjoy the right to be able to debate the issues and hope that one day we will reach, “Equality for All.”

These values and beliefs is what define me as a Democrat.

Hispanic Communications Director for the Rick Scott for Florida Campaign

Jaime Florez: Hispanic Communications Director for the Rick Scott for Florida Campaign

Why Am I A Republican?

By Jaime Florez

To those who migrated, along with the sadness of leaving behind the land and customs, part of the family, friends and some of the best memories, the country where we have arrived offers us a new life, new knowledge, habits and friends, almost a restart. And in that process, the opportunity to place ourselves ideologically where we best see fit.

Many come here and find a new religious congregation where spiritually they feel most comfortable. Others discover new interests; they let themselves get caught up into a new sport or simply fall in love with a new hobby. To me, as a Colombian and I suppose, to many more, the arrival into the United States gave me, amongst many others, the opportunity to consciously define my position in the political spectrum.

Upon arriving here we find a solid democracy and a rich political culture based on a robust bipartisanship. After analyzing platforms and backgrounds I decided on the Republican Party because, as they promote themselves, they are the collectivity of opportunities and prosperity. I firmly believe in free enterprise and in that I fully identify with the Republican ideas.

The prosperity to which they refer to is the result of more and more people creating and growing their own businesses, generating more jobs, paying fair taxes that are wisely invested for the welfare of all. Prosperity does not come to a country that grows its own government apparatus and becomes the largest employer and the main source of livelihood, because having not the need to comply with efficiency, it will end up just squandering resources and eliminating competition. We must create jobs, yes of course, but in the private sector, so that the public sector’s resources are invested in health, education and infrastructure, not in the scaffolding function of government.

Opposing politics have led this nation through the difficult and wrong path of fiscal irresponsibility. As a Republican I think it is imperative that we cut spending and government waste, we put stop to the careless spending of public resources and find a way to balance our budget reasonably. It is the only way to restore the country’s fiscal health which it so requires, to both stabilize and heal its finances.

I believe, so I am a Republican, in the defense of basic social principles. I defend individual freedoms and advocate that the United States fulfill its role as a defending nation of human rights, democracy and self-determination of peoples. We are the last stronghold of those basic principles and we cannot allow humanity to fall into the hands of regimes that disregard the importance and value of the human being.

The Republican Party is the option of compassion and respect for others.