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?
I would have to agree with experts in saying that unless Scott’s opposition places a lot of money in Hispanic media to promote the current allegations, the “Mexican accent” situation that happened “on a bus” will not overshadow Scott’s current engagement with the Hispanic community. What the Rick Scott campaign needs to make sure of now is that he does not stop his full force Hispanic inclusion agenda. He must invest a lot of money in outreach and with the Hispanic media to spread his message. Usually, this is where many campaigns do not invest and where they all should. The campaigns forget that Hispanic leaders, media and local Hispanic community papers are the gatekeepers to the Hispanic community.
A big majority of the current Hispanic registered voters have shown a disinterest in local politics. For now, this attack on Scott will possibly be something that only the people in politics will become aware of. In addition, if advised correctly, I do not see Scott apologizing for a “he said, she said” situation and that currently does not represent his current momentum with Hispanics. Other campaigns should learn and follow this momentum which could capture the vote that can make the whole difference in losing or winning the 2014 gubernatorial race…the Hispanic vote.