Face-Off: The Hispanic Engagement Strategy for the Crist and Scott Campaigns


Left to right: Jaime Florez and Omar Khan

Left to right: Jaime Florez and Omar Khan

I have been writing often in reference to the 2014 Florida gubernatorial campaigns. Whichever campaign focuses heavily and strategically on the Hispanic vote, will be the winner of the 2014 Florida gubernatorial campaign.   I decided to contact the Crist and Scott campaign and ask them about their campaign’s current Hispanic engagement efforts.  Here is what they had to say:

This is what Jaime Florez, Hispanic Communications Director for the Rick Scott Campaign had to say about their Hispanic engagement:

“This week, Let’s Get to Work will be launching Oportunidad, its first Spanish language TV and digital ad. I cannot recall a previous gubernatorial campaign in Florida where Spanish paid media started this early. The initial $500,000 Spanish media buy, which launches Wednesday, is only the first of many to come that will share with Spanish-speaking Floridians Governor Rick Scott’s record and vision for our state. Still, paid advertisements are just one component of a comprehensive effort in engaging Hispanic voters throughout our state at every level, especially at the grassroots, with a sustained volunteer-to-voter contact.

We are very excited about the foundation we have laid over the last several months to get to this point. We have a Spanish communication shop providing daily information to the Spanish-language press. Our Hispanic Political Directors have been building a strong network of support within the Hispanic community’s elected officials, civic, faith-based and business leaders. The Spanish website www.rickscottporlaflorida.com will be going live tomorrow, giving voters the option to follow our campaign and receive updates in English or Spanish. On our social media sites, we’ve posted bilingual messages, encouraging followers to communicate in the language of their preference.

Much is said about “Hispanic Outreach” in politics and gauging a campaign’s commitment to secure the Hispanic vote by a set of benchmarks: How much is spent on Spanish paid media? Does the campaign have a Spanish press shop? Is there a Spanish website? Do they have a Hispanic political team? Going by the traditional political checklist, our campaign is months ahead of the Charlie Crist operation in putting into place and executing a campaign that is committed to earning the vote of each Hispanic in Florida. It’s noteworthy that if the Crist team has not been able to maintain an English speaking spokesperson, imagine how long it will take them to hire and keep a Spanish speaking spokesperson? All kidding aside, our campaign is not traditional. From the Governor to our volunteers, this campaign is committed to not just checking a list of benchmarks. We will implement the most robust “Hispanic Outreach” seen yet.

Florida’s diversity provides for a unique campaign approach that is more substantive and goes beyond traditional “outreach” but requires a more in- depth commitment and discipline to build an enlace with the Hispanic community. By continuing to execute this approach we will prove successful in November. More importantly, the ethnic richness of our state strengthens the focus of our campaign, which is ultimately about creating oportunidades for ALL Floridians.”

This is what Omar Khan, Campaign Manager for the Charlie Crist Campaign had to say about their Hispanic engagement:

“We are focused on building a campaign that looks like the people of Florida. One of our first senior staff hires is Hispanic, and we will certainly be communicating with voters through Hispanic media. And just today, we’ve launched www.CharlieCrist.com/Espanol to share Governor Crist’s vision with Florida’s Spanish-speaking community.

But more important than the process of the campaign is policy of the candidate. Governor Crist believes that our state’s diversity is its greatest strength. He believes that we can create more opportunities by lifting all boats: investing in making college more affordable, and putting a laser focus on making Florida the beacon for Latin American trade and tourism, which will create thousands of new job opportunities for small businesses. Governor Crist will create a Florida Trade and Development Representative whose job will be to open doors for Florida businesses to new markets – particularly Latin American – and who will answer directly to the Governor.

This is a significant departure from Governor Scott, who campaigned on bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida, has reduced opportunities for HIspanic students to get an affordable college education, and has made it much harder for people to vote. Charlie Crist believes everyone should be able to live the American Dream here in Florida.”

My thoughts?  If I could give two pieces of advice out to any campaign it is this:

1.  Make sure you are sending out press releases in Spanish to media en Español  and Hispanic community leaders.  Every press release you have in English should be in Spanish also.

2. Invest, invest, invest statewide in placing ads with local community papers in Spanish as they are the gatekeepers of the Hispanic community.  This is the paper that the community picks up to read.  Seeing your ad in these papers sends a message that says: “you matter to me”  Contact me if you would like my opinion on which ones I would use statewide.

Romanticizing the Hispanic Vote

The Hispanic Vote

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

In “La Florida” I have been part of political campaigns, worked for a Congressman and have advised several election offices. We reached out to many Hispanics in my tenure with each of them. However, that has not been a standard practice for my contemporaries.

Time and time again, Hispanic advocates, the media and pundits alike have looked at Hispanic’s voter registration numbers, and have urged politicians, campaigns and governments regardless of their political affiliation, to reach out to Latino voters. Time and time again, the response of many was: “Who cares, they don’t vote, and in turn, they don’t matter”. Of course, this is something said behind closed doors.

The Republican Party is very aware of its lack of connectivity and is getting to work, with a vengeance. The Koch brothers and the Republican Party have invested millions to trash Obamacare “En Español” and are attempting to defeat South Florida Congressman Joe Garcia in the upcoming November election. However, there is also a true desire to connect with Latinos from many. One man who has been at the forefront is the man married to a Mexican woman, Jeb Bush. For years now he and his sons have helped place conferences together to try to connect again with Latinos. There are many individuals that identify with Ronald Reagan, but cannot identify with the Republican Party.

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Thought Provoker: Fabio Andrade-Community Activist

I have the pleasure to have Fabio Andrade as the first “Thought Provoker” on Political Pasión.  Thought provokers are individuals or a  group that make a difference in our community.

Fabio is of Colombian descent and an amazing advocate for Hispanics.  Not only does he have a heart for the Hispanic community, he also knows the importance of making sure that the Hispanic community does become involved in politics.  Fabio is a highly sought after advisor for high level candidates in the state of Florida.   Here is what Fabio has to say:

Evelyn Perez-Verdia: “Here we are with community activist, Fabio Andrade.  Fabio,  the question is: why is it important for Hispanics to involve themselves in politics here in Florida?”

Fabio Andrade: “I believe it is because we are in a country where politics represents the people.  We have to assure ourselves that as a community, we can tell our elected officials, what do we expect, what do we need and how we see the world and our day to day.  I think it is very important that we become involved and we participate.  In the year 1967 when we arrived to New York, my parents made sure that in our home we became involved and that we learned who our elected officials where so that we could navigate in this world and this new life.  That is why I think it is vital that the people become interested and participate.  It is not about being too active or  being involved daily in the political arena.  However, it is important to become informed and educate ourselves in regard to those who represent us.”

To learn more about Fabio, you can go to: http://www.fabioandrade.com


Are All Florida Gubernatorial Campaigns Failing to Reach Out to Hispanics?


Rick Scott Paella

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

It has been going so well lately for Governor Rick Scott.   As governor, he has finally started appearing in touch with the multicultural Hispanic community that represents Florida.  He stood with the Venezuelan community when they needed someone from the government to show that they cared about the current uproar in their country.  He appointed Cuban-American Carlos Lopez-Cantera as his Lieutenant Governor.  He went to a Paella festival in Miami.  He has stopped the voter purge that many say would affect Hispanics going to the polls.  We Hispanics might as well start calling him “Ricardito Eskot” for his savvy choices in reaching out to the Hispanic community–regardless if they are sincere or not.

Governor Scott has done everything right to attract Hispanics to his campaign. However, due to recent events, the opposition and media believe Scott is hiring people who do not understand the political landscape of Florida and the importance of being sensitive to Hispanic culture. I am referring to the recent incident of former co-finance chairman Mike Fernandez resigning for Rick Scott’s campaign due to his feeling a lack of connection to Hispanic outreach in the Scott campaign. Is the lack of connection towards Hispanics only being felt in Scott’s campaign? I believe it is larger than this, and if you sit down with each campaign and ask them to inform you of the amount of money that they will allocate toward Hispanic engagement and media during the campaign, you will come to the conclusion that even though they point their finger at Scott, sadly, there might be three fingers pointing back at them. How much is each gubernatorial campaign allocating toward Hispanic engagement and Hispanic directed media? Kindly I would like to ask them to show us the numbers. My next concern is the following: why is it so difficult to get in touch with the Scott and Crist campaign?

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Political Pasión Interviews Cuban Blogger Yoani Sanchez Re: Voting

Yoani Sanchez talks about the importance of voting. In reference to voting, Yoani says that indifference and apathy is leaving in the hands of others what is our responsibility. Sometimes the people who are in power are not the people that we may want in politics. However, the problem is if we all close the door to our house and decide to not to cast a vote, what happens is the same people continue to occupy the same positions. The most important point she made was to please vote, as there are many people like her that live in a country (Cuba) where her vote does not count. Video in Spanish.