Florida Democratic Party Searching for a Bilingual Media Director

flademsBy Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Viva the FDP!  The day has come.  After a strong initiative from various leaders in Florida, The Florida Democratic Party has agreed on the importance of hiring  a communcations professional to serve as Press Secretary and Director of Hispanic Media for the 2016 campaign cycle.  Speaking further to Chairwoman Allison Tant about this position,  Political Pasion asked her if the position would continue past 2016.  Chairwoman Tant stated: “It will be ongoing after ’16 as long as we have the budget to fund it.  I am committed to see this happen.  So now put the word out so we have good applicants!”  In addition, the party has hired Sheyla Asencios as their Hispanic Outreach Coordinator and she will start working with the FDP starting September.  Samantha Pedrosa, has also joined the FDP team and started in their finance department yesterday.  Allison Tant ended by saying: “We are building a great team!”  Here are the details for those who wish to apply to the position:

The Florida Democratic Party is seeking communications professional to serve as Press Secretary and Director of Hispanic Media for the 2016 campaign cycle. 

This position will assist the communications director in the day-to-day responsibilities of the communications department and will oversee Spanish-language communication for the Party. This will include on-the-record conversations with local, state, and national media, and the drafting and translating of press releases, op-eds, and social media content.

The job will be based in South Florida with frequent travel to Tallahassee and statewide.

Responsibilities: 

  • Assist the communications director in day-to-day press responsibilities and rapid response
  • Develop relationship with Hispanic press outlets and reporters
  • Manage Spanish-speaking surrogates throughout Florida
  • Organize, pitch, and execute earned media events targeted at Hispanic media outlets
  • Write or translate press releases, op-eds, and social media posts
Qualifications: 
  • Fluency in Spanish (speaking, reading, and writing)
  • Experience with media, public relations, or journalism
  • Demonstrated exceptional

Please email resumes to Max Steele at msteele@fladems.com

Jeb Is In: Let The “Batalla” Begin!

Jeb

By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

Jeb Bush wants to make it clear that the Hispanic vote is important to him.  According to a Pew Research Poll, 64% of Hispanics living in the United States are Mexican-Americans like his wife, Columba Bush.  Many Mexican-Americans tend to be Democrats.  And Democrats can’t afford to lose them to Jeb. So here is how the batalla (battle) goes:

Los Demócratas Pegan Duro (Hit Hard)

On Monday, June 15, 2015, Democrats swung hard at a press conference at Florida International University, prior to Jeb Bush’s announcement for president at Miami Dade College in Kendall, Florida. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (a Caucasian Jewish woman and the chair of the Democratic National Committee) punched hard as she stated that “King Jeb” only looks out for himself and for people like him.  She did what Democratic strategists plan to do from here on forward: never stop connecting him to his brother and father and stating that America is still “digging out of the hole” that his brother George W. created.

DHCFWS

The chair of the DNC was accompanied by the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, a group of volunteers who are doing the job of being very present in the community and being a voice that shows that Democrats care for Hispanics. On the other hand, the Florida Democratic Party says they do not have the budget to focus on Hispanics.

The Army of the United Colors of Benneton, Just Better Dressed

At Jeb’s presidential announcement, never in my life had I seen so many outfits on women that I wanted in my closet, so many media outlets, so many Asian-Americans at a rally and people in media showing their spicy moves (see reporter dancing behind me in video)

According to University of South Florida political scientist, Dr. Susan MacManus, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing minority group in Florida, even surpassing Hispanics.  They tend to be Independent.  They supported Obama in the past, and they have also supported Republicans, which makes them a potential swing vote.

Asiansforjeb

One thing is certain, Jeb made sure that when he announced his candidacy for president, the moment would be about him, his beliefs and about his multicultural army.  He wanted for everyone to have not one bit of doubt that he can attract people of all communities— Helen Aguirre Ferre, the first woman to chair of the Board of Trustees of Miami Dade College gave an amazing speech filled with vigor and bilingualism.  Toni Jennings, a Republican and the first female Lieutenant Governor of Florida talked about her times with Jeb and about the Hurricane days.  The whole room had chills when the African-American Reverend R.B. Holmes Jr. of Tallahassee, Florida gave a speech that had a Martin Luther King Jr. tune and words that supported a Republican.

Adios “Bush”

Jeb, who wished to be seen as his own person, has decided to leave the name “Bush” in the past by deleting it from his campaign, focusing on his immediate family, and his mom; Barbara Bush who ties with Hillary Clinton as the most admired First Lady in the United States according to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll.

George the father and George W. the brother were not present.  And as we talk about political battles, the reminder of war and extreme spending was not an issue that I am sure Jeb wanted to make present.  When I asked Laura Hinojosa, a 36 year old, Colombian-American Democrat who lives in Delray Beach, Florida what she thought about Governor Bush.  She said: “For me the problem is that when I hear the name “Bush” all I can think of are the useless wars and spending they got this country into.  We have always gone to war for interests such as petroleum and in places where it should not be our war.  Why are we not in war in places where there are truly human violations and people are dying of hunger?  I have not analyzed him.  However at the end of the day, he is a “Bush”.  Interesting, the Pew Research Center has not polled Hispanics on their position on war since 2007.  I cannot find any major pollster asking Hispanics what they think about going back to war.

Yes, Jeb is a White Caucasian Male

Over and over I saw that in terms of the organization of the event, every single candidate was slapped on their face with a white glove.  However, some critics say that Jeb let everyone speak, but the white male which people state Jeb is doing so poorly with.  Due to so much Latin “sabor” (flavor), have people forgotten that he is a white male?    Some say that he should have paid a little more attention to the white vote at the event or have included a white male for that reason.  He does need the white vote to win.  Romney had 59% of the white vote in 2012.  Yet, in order for any candidate to win, everyone is aware that they will need a slice of each community to be victorious.

The Undeniable Latino Strategy:

What better surrogates than your own good-looking (in my humble opinion) sons.  As I stood with the media, the moment when I heard the cameras click out of control was when “46” as some Republicans like to call George P. Bush and Jeb’s son took the microphone.  George P looked right into the camera, and in perfect Spanish said: “Tu vales muchisimo. Tu hermano hispano.””You matter so much, you, Hispanic brother.”  They were powerful words that touched the pain of many who feel disrespected, forgotten and racially harassed in “the land of the free”.

46

Yet, Democrats continue to say to be careful.  “In spite of his rhetoric, Jeb Bush is no friend of the Latino community.” said Maurizio Passariello, the recently named South Florida Public Relations Director for the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida. “His lack of support for President Obama’s efforts to offer relief to undocumented immigrants and keep families together.  His indifference to the plight of Latinas working full time, who are making 56 cents for every dollar paid to a white non-Hispanic male and his plans to gut education spending, from early education through Pell Grants, clearly demonstrate that.  He may speak our language, but he certainly does not understand our priorities.”

Are Hispanics Truly in The Democrat’s Pocket?

Being that Jeb Bush is from Florida and Hispanics in Florida had largest voter turnout from any state in the nation in 2012, it is time for the campaigns to take the Latino vote seriously.  Just because so many Hispanics are Democrats, it does not mean they are faithful to the party.  At the end of the day, they will pick who they like the most.

Jason Rubinstein, is an Ecuadorian-American Democrat with Jewish roots and Catholic upbringing who has placed an Obama sign in his front yard in the past.  He has a master’s degree, an excellent job, speaks perfect English, and is the son of a former diplomat.    He also was one of the many who signed a petition that asked the Florida parties to give the community a bilingual Communications Director. This time, he says that Jeb has his vote, depending on who is his VP.  He hopes it will be someone from the minority community and hopefully a woman.  It is one of those moments, where you look at what just happened and then you look a second time in disbelief.  My reaction is exactly what can happen to the Democrats in 2016 if they do not get a bit more serious and start hiring Hispanics to be a fundamental part of their organization.  I am not just talking about Hillary Clinton who has done an excellent job doing so.  I am talking about involving Hispanic professionals (and paying them a just amount) in all campaigns where there is a large Hispanic population.  It shows that the Democratic Party should not believe that Hispanic Democrats are in their pocket.

Why is Jason voting for Jeb? 

“I think this a good alternative for the Democrats and for people like me who are not left wing nut jobs.”  Says the Tampa native as we speak in Spanish.   “Por mas Bush que sea” (Even though he is a Bush), I believe he is different from his brother.  More open to the immigration issue which hits home.  Due to the terrible situation that Ecuador lives in, I know people who are here undocumented.  I could never support a person who does not support these people.  It would be to go against “my people”.  What I admire the most about him is that he had “los huevos” (the balls) to be of the ultra-conservative American aristocracy and that he would have married a Mexican girl with no money.  Imagine what that must have been for them 40 years ago.  “Tienes que tener bien puesto los pantalones para hacer eso, no te parece?”  “You need to have guts to do something like that, don’t you think?”

It is true.  According to a NY Mag article, after Reagan-Bush won the White House ticket, Jeb moved to Florida due to his wife experiencing racism among their white, Republican circles in Houston.  When he was asked about it, according to the article, he said: “Subtle, sublte.  It’s very different now, very welcoming, very open, particularly the big open areas.”  Yet still not in places like Charleston, South Carolina, I suppose.

Think Again

Jeb being in the race is a “batalla” to definitely not take for granted.  We live in a time where you can no longer win with the white vote alone.  The parties need to get serious which means investing in our communities and not expect for us to do everything for free while they pay hefty sums to others. We are aware of the racism that exists.  We are aware because of the current positions we continue to have in terms of leadership.  It definitely is not due to lack of leadership and expertise within all minority communities.  As a community, you do not need to say anything, and we know it.  We know when we are being pandered to.  We know when we are being disrespected.  Yet we remain quiet sometimes for fear of losing those promises that never happen.  Those days are over, and if you do not pay attention, if you do not show respect for what makes America beautiful, and come to the realization that we are part of that beauty… you will lose the battle.  A battle that Jeb seems to clearly understand.

Underestimating Marco Rubio’s Diversity Factor?

SenatorRubio By Evelyn Perez-Verdia

 

As U.S. Florida Senator Marco Rubio trails Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in white votes 43%-45% according to the most recent Quinnipiac poll, the Democrats say that Rubio still does not have a chance of winning due to his stance on rapprochement with Cuba and also his position on immigration reform.  The Republicans seem to believe that if he continues targeting the middle class and poor through his personal stories, and focuses on the Latinos who think just like them, he has a chance of getting that 35% percent of the Hispanic vote that he needs.  The strategy is that he does not need to convince all Hispanics, just the conservative ones that support his cause.

On Monday, April 13th, I had the opportunity to view the diversity of individuals from outside of the iconic Freedom Tower in Miami at Marco Rubio’s announcement for President of the United States.

Los Cubano-Americanos  (The Cuban-Americans)

While only 5% of Latino populations in the U.S. are Cuban-American, the majority in favor of Rubio (if not faithful to Jeb Bush) are conservative Cuban-Americans.  We had the Sugar King Jose Pepe Fanjul (Fan-Yul in English, Fan-hul in Spanish) present at Rubio’s announcement and who a couple weeks later will have a fundraiser for him in West Palm Beach.  Like in many families, there is a brother that is a Democrat and one who is a Republican–Pepe Jr. is the Republican.   At the event we also saw proud Cuban-American women holding the Cuban flag, and wearing not one, but two lapel pins with Rubio’s handsome (according to Latinas between the ages of 35-80) face on them. Four Cuban-Americans who were hyped after Rubio’s announcement, stood in front of freedom tower (one with pink pants, white shoes and without socks) screaming at the climate change protestors: “Comunistas!” while reporter Michael Putney from Channel 10 was interviewing a Jewish man who supported Rubio.

 

 Los Latinos (Self explanatory)

There was a bilingual Hispanic man (not Cuban) holding Marco’ Rubio’s book while his baby son wore a shirt that said “Future President of The United States”. Venezuelan-American conservatives, who also carry a similar pain as many conservative Cuban-Americans, support Rubio.   We saw people like Mayor of the City of Doral, Luigi Boria.   Also present was the well known Colombian-American Fabio Andrade, who moves the Latin-American masses in South Florida and who strongly says: “Si, yo estoy con el” (yes, I am with him).  Fabio has worked with Bush before.  May we not forget that Marco’s wife, Jeannette Dousdebes is Colombian-American.

Los Jovenes (The Youth)

A young generation of white Anglo Saxon teenage kids were also in full support. One caught my eye as he was wearing a t-shirt with the American eagle on it as he screamed “Whoo!” for Rubio and watched the speech on the Jumbo Tron.  Behind them were the DACA kids or who we also call the “DREAMers” protesting and asking Rubio “What about my dream?!” as the senator continued to say that his father stood behind a bar in the back of the room so that he could stand behind a podium, in front of the room he was in.

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Los Espirituales (The Spiritual Ones)

As Senator Rubio’s guests left with smiles on their face, I saw a priest walk calmly out of the tower as he contently watched the different people who surrounded him.  I asked him if I could interview him.  He complied with a cool demeanor.  According to the priest, a protestant pastor prayed for Senator Rubio, before his announcement, yet Father Dan Beeman lives in Virginia and was the priest who prayed for Rubio after he announced he would run for President of the United States.  As you see in the video, he mentions how impressed he was by the diversity of the crowd. From his Twitter account, this priest seems to know how to bring back Catholicism in a cool light to Millenials as he drinks beer with the Marco Team and says on Twitter that the most difficult thing of Marco’s event was not screaming “Polo”.   According to The Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion, 55% of the nation’s 34.5 million Hispanics identify as Catholic.

Here is Father Beeman who you can find on Twitter:

En Español (You get this one too)

At his announcement for president, Rubio also targeted the Spanish-speaking abuela who usually goes unnoticed, living in the English-spoken home of her daughter or son, yet Marco spoke to her on TV as he mentioned the words his father said to him all “en español”.

Que Va A Importar? (What Will Matter?)

In the day and age where our youth are not in touch with the policies of the candidate, all they will see and be attracted to is the youth that Rubio brings to the table.  However, the Clinton campaign believes that if they get the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro to be her Vice-President, they will cover this demographic also.  Castro is Hispanic, yet he does not speak Spanish.  However it seems that this is the conversation that they will have with the guy  who produces the commercial: “It’s all good, man.  He is a Latino.  What we are going to do is have a guy 20 years older than him translate what he is saying in Spanish, and it will work out perfectly.” This is where Democrats need to seriously ask themselves if having a Hispanic on the ticket, even though he does not speak Spanish will be enough.  Hillary may run against two potential candidates that have this gift (Bush or Rubio).

According to a quote Rice University political scientist Mark Jones gave to the Texas Tribune: “Any Hispanic politician that doesn’t have that skill set is disadvantaged, in part, because they don’t have the ability connect in the same way with a key segment of the voting public.   Language helps demonstrate commitment and a level of connection that is important with many voters whose dominant language is Spanish.”  It is definitely something that the other candidates might underestimate of Rubio and something to seriously think about for 2016.

The Power of Rubio’s Message

As I hear Democrats and Republicans talk about the fact that Marco Rubio does not have a chance.   At his event he showed the power he has to bring people together from different communities—it is something no candidate should take for granted.

Marco reached out to Millennials with his Pitbull music playing (which he knows personally and on first name basis) and painting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as someone from “yesterday” very similarly as the young Bill Clinton did in his campaign when he spoke about George H. Bush.

There are definitely some clear differences in policy between Bush, Clinton and Rubio that affects us as Latinos.  Yet, in the day and age where most voters do not look at the policies of a candidate, but in how much they like him, Rubio has that in for him also.  The big pocket Koch Brothers definitely understand this and that is why the plan to back him.  Which means that Senator Rubio will have unimaginable amounts of money to give a bilingual message.

Truly, we all know that the physical attractiveness of the person should not be the basis of any campaign, but sadly that is what politics has come down to. How much can an ad convince you that he or she is the one?  How much can they bring to life through words your vision for America?  How much can you bear looking at them for the next four or eight years?  If he only had the skills to play the saxophone on a late night show.  The diversity that Rubio brings is definitely something not to underestimate.