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.
A week ago, I was absolutely convinced that it would be difficult for Charlie Crist to become Florida’s next Governor. Now the campaign has created history with a strong Latina that is fluent in Spanish to steal the show with Spanish speaking media outlets while many swing vote Hispanics are still searching to pick the right person for their state. I find Annette Taddeo-Goldstein to be the best choice Charlie Crist could have picked for Lieutenant Governor. She has proven to be a leader and powerful spokeswoman for a new generation of Hispanics which come from different countries. She was one of the first people of a high position in the Florida Democratic Party to follow Political Pasion’s Twitter page and it meant so much to me.
As I have said before, the person who embraces the Hispanic vote will be the winner of the 2014 Florida gubernatorial race. I now believe much has to do with the fresh and new leaders that are running the Crist show. Kudos to Omar Khan, Steve Schale and Kevin Cate for this. Now that they have the tool in hand, they need to use it. Place Annette on all of Hispanic shows and commercials. If you want to win, it is time to make Annette the brand for the Florida Democratic Party and the reason why Hispanics go out to vote. Please don’t forget to also to do paid advertisement with Hispanic media. It will pay off and it will just be one more sign that the Democrats care for Hispanics. With all my love I want to remind you that media in Spanish also have journalists that need to place bread on the table.
There is a shift in the Democratic Party that I have never seen. There are new leaders who are aware of the importance of the Hispanic Vote. I heard it when I received a call from President of the Florida Hispanic Democratic Caucus, Vivian Rodriguez. She called to invite me to the Hispanic Democratic Caucus meeting held in Hollywood, Florida. Even though the Hispanic Caucus has been around for over 20 years, this was the best attended meeting ever. To tell you the truth, I had never received a call before from anyone in the Democratic Party, even when I was a Democrat. It was always me calling them. I would beg for them to reach out more to Hispanics. I always fought for the party to groom young Hispanics to be become the leaders of tomorrow and never saw this as their priority. Now, this is one of the priorities that Vivian Rodriguez has as president. She is searching and involving Hispanic university students to become involved in the Democratic Party. I have never seen such change as I have seen today. All of these modifications are something that Cuban Republicans have been doing in South Florida for over 50 years. If the Democrats continue at this pace, we will clearly see that they will reap the crop that they planted as we see with the Cuban American Republicans. Charlie Crist is finally a true contender and could be possibly governor again with this smart choice. Congratulations Annette Taddeo-Goldstein! Let the fight for the Hispanic vote begin.