Five Questions for Annette Taddeo
Around the State
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist announced last week that his running mate would be Annette Taddeo, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and a political consultant's dream: a Hispanic working mom who runs a successful small business and hosted her own show, Taddeo2Day, on CNN Latino.
Taddeo was born on a U.S. military base in Colombia. She is sometimes referred to as Taddeo-Goldstein, reflecting her marriage to clinical psychologist Eric Goldstein. The couple have an 8-year-old daughter and two children from Goldstein's previous marriage.
As Taddeo, she ran for Congress in 2008, losing to longtime U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Taddeo also considered a challenge to Allison Tant as state Democratic Party chairwoman, but instead became one of four party vice-chairs last year.
The News Service of Florida has five questions for Annette Taddeo:
Q: Talk about the constituencies you represent: Hispanics, women, small businesses, South Floridians, working moms, Jews. How will you get them all to the polls?
TADDEO: As a working mom and a small-business owner, I've had many experiences that Floridians are going through. I've said it before and I'll continue saying it: I know what it's like to be a small-business owner and to go through hard economic times, wonder what it's like to make payroll and how that is going to affect my employees and even my own family.
And obviously, as a mom, I know how hard it is to manage our schedules and try to do it all, measure what you're buying, measure the weight of the vegetables, because you can only afford a certain pound because of the price. These things I've never forgotten, and I think those are experiences that will shine right through that I can talk to people about.
I'm Jewish by choice. I was very, very proud of (former) Gov. Charlie Crist that when he was governor, the first place he went to visit for an economic trip was to Israel. And obviously, Israel is very important, not only to our country -- it's our biggest ally in the region -- but to our state. And I look forward to continuing to make that an emphasis for our state. To continue to have that great partnership, and to also create jobs through partnerships with all the wonderful things that Israel has and does.
Overall, these things and all the different groups that I can and will represent, the most important one is just that we're all people and we want a voice at the table, of the people and not special interests, not big corporations, just regular people.
Q: What is your strategy for Florida Democrats to regain the political power that reflects their numbers in the population?
TADDEO: Well, it starts with the governor's race. We've got to win the governor's race, and then it allows us the opportunity to change everything. For the longest time -- way too long, I don't want to count -- Republicans have had both the governor's mansion and control of the House and the Senate in Tallahassee. And it's really, really hard to have our point of view and to come to a table and negotiate. Politics is the art of negotiation, but there's been no negotiation. There's not even been a discussion about issues that matter to us.
So this will allow us to start that, and to start moving the needle, just to have discussions. And so that's how we get there: by winning this race first. And then from there we work on building the bench that I have been very much saying the Democratic Party needs to do.
Q: Might that be part of your work as lieutenant governor?
TADDEO: No. The party needs to do that.
Part of the work as lieutenant governor is to be that person that brings a woman's perspective to the table, that really believes in negotiation, believes that not all ideas from Republicans are bad. They have some good ideas, but so do we. And we need to do what's in the best interests of the people. And Charlie Crist has proven that he did that when he was governor. And he didn't necessarily always do what the party wanted him to do, but actually decided to do what was right for the people. And I admire that, and I know that that's what the two of us will do when we go back to Tallahassee -- when he goes back to Tallahassee (laughs) and I go for the first time.
Q: How will you defend Charlie Crist against $100 million worth of attacks on his record and his character?
TADDEO: It's true, they have a lot of money -- almost unlimited, it feels like. And they will attack, and we're prepared for that. But what we have is, we have the people. You know, we have a positive outlook of Florida and a way for all of us to work together, regardless of party, for all of us to work together for a better education for our children, for protecting the environment, for having voting rights, hard-working people getting a livable wage.
We do have the people, and that's exactly how we're going to win. They can attack, and they have over $100 million to attack all they want. And we are going to run a positive campaign. We're about the future of Florida, the future of the children in Florida, like my own 8-year-old daughter. So we want to get that out there. Obviously, we will work very hard to raise the necessary funds to communicate that, but the biggest part of our race is going to be as well -- just like we did it for Obama -- where we just go door to door, knocking and talking to people, neighbors talking to their neighbors. And I think people are ready for a change -- eager for a change -- after four years with Rick Scott and special interests having a seat at the table, rather than regular people who are struggling and feel left out by this governor.
Q: You could be a heartbeat away from running the state. Are you concerned that you haven't had the experience of elective office?
TADDEO: We elected a governor in Rick Scott who had never been elected, and his only credentials were being a business person. But his business experience had to do with defrauding our seniors and our federal government with our own tax dollars. And then he used that money to have unlimited amounts to campaign (for governor in 2010).
There's a huge contrast between us -- because I have earned my money, I've worked very hard, I'm a small-business owner. And I think people would like to see that refreshing new perspective -- in addition to bringing the perspective of the working mom and as a Hispanic and all the things you asked me about before.
It opens a seat to the table to real people that work hard and earn their money and play by the rules. That's the American dream that I've been able to build and Florida has given me, because I've worked hard at it. And I would like for other people to have that opportunity, not just the select few who are well-connected.