Rick Scott Quietly Showing Hispanics He Will Fight for Their Vote

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: November 8, 2013 3:55 PM
Judges Appointment Graph

Three years ago newspapers were full of Charlie Crist's minorities mischief.

Taking heat from both blacks and Hispanics, Crist was branded an egotist whose efforts to undermine Kendrick Meek and Marco Rubio smacked of racial insensitivity.

If Crist had raised the tiniest finger in aid of either minority group during his term in the Florida governor's office, it certainly was lost to the public consciousness in October 2010.

The blow was Politico's report that Crist was involved in getting Bill Clinton to persuade Democratic nominee Meek to drop his own bid and endorse Crist so he could deny Republican Rubio the Senate seat.

Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings remarked at the time, "This is going to cause African-Americans and Hispanics to be mad and vote in greater numbers than they were likely to before this incident."

That was then.

Shortly after, Crist was out of the limelight, outsider Rick Scott was elected governor and the measure of resentment Scott endured following a close primary and general election was palpable and lingering. It wasn't just the Democrats. Establishment Republicans, strong supporters of Bill McCollum, Scott's opponent in the primary, were slow to come around. Scott was like the lonely boy at the head of the class in a new inner-city school.

During much of 2011, the comparisons drawn between his actions in office and Crist's were often unfairly and brutally unfavorable to the new governor.

Perhaps the issue that got the most out of hand was minority hiring.

After Scott had served less than nine months in office, the Times-Herald declared in a large headline, "Gov. Rick Scott has hired fewer minority staffers than Charlie Crist, Florida Cabinet officials."

Not really.

In the story's 21st paragraph, the reporter wrote, "The governor's office is required by state law to set diversity goals" -- and that was followed by, "Scott missed nine of the 18 goals for top staff positions, according to a June 30 survey. Crist missed eight of the 18 goals his last full year in office."

Scott missed nine of 18 goals, and the newspaper only gave him nine months to prove himself; Crist missed eight of 18 and he had all year. The story was a bust, the reporter had debunked it after the 21st paragraph.

In 2010, fueled by a robust Spanish-language television campaign, Scott hit an enviable benchmark for a GOP candidate, with 50 percent of the Hispanic vote. But ever since, his popularity in the Hispanic community has sagged like an old clothesline. Scott has been bedeviled by his own hard-line stance against a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants. 

Between the 2010 and 2012 elections, more Hispanics registered as independents, 538,708, than as Republicans, 476,488. And about 645,000 Hispanics were registered as Democrats last year. None of these numbers have escaped the Democrats' notice.

“We haven’t stopped our efforts since 2012,” the Florida Democratic Party’s political director, Christian Ulvert, has been quoted as saying. He estimates the party has out-registered Republicans with Hispanics 3-to-1.

Ulvert said, “We haven’t seen where the Republicans have been (signing up Hispanics) in a coordinated way or effective way.”

Now along comes Charlie Crist. The same day he announced he will challenge Scott, his supporters began ramping up the runaway Hispanic-numbers comparisons. 

Felix Majores, Central Florida businessman and a contributor to Democratic candidates most of his life, told Sunshine State News, "Charlie's going to be an easy sell to the Latino community, especially in South Florida. Scott looks right past Latinos and appoints Anglo after Anglo. He just did it again when there was a vacancy in the 3rd DCA.

"I think all you have to do is look at how many more Latino appointments Charlie Crist made when he was governor to see why Latinos feel more appreciated with Charlie back."

Actually, Majores is wrong. During his period in office, Scott has been matching, or bettering, Crist's record for appointing Hispanics to government jobs, including judicial appointments:

-- In Crist's four years, of the 180 judicial appointments he made, 16 are Hispanic. That's 8.8 percent. In less than three years, Scott made 123 judicial appointments, 13 of which are Hispanic. That's 10.57 percent.

-- Of Crist's 2,427 nonjudicial appointments in four years, 206 are Hispanic. That's 8.49 percent. In less than three years, Scott made 1,534 nonjudicial appointments. That's 8.47 percent.

Certainly Scott missed an opportunity when he had two solid Hispanic candidates in Jorge Cueto and Jose Rodriguez, but replaced retiring Judge Angel A. Cortinas with Edwin A. Scales III on the 3rd District Court of Appeal. In fact, it was the second time in a row Scott passed over a qualified Hispanic on the DCA.

But Scales' appointment is difficult to argue with. The governor's decision was determined by geography and timing: Scales is the first Monroe County lawyer appointed to the 3rd DCA bench since its creation in 1957.

Scott spokesman John Tupps told SSN, "Governor Scott appoints people who will best serve Florida families. For judicial appointments, he selects the most qualified candidate from nominees provided by the Judicial Nominating Commissions who will serve with humility and follow the rule of law."

Scott has always maintained with conviction that he is proud of Florida's Hispanic community, admires its spirit and sense of loyalty, and values its contribution.

"He's not flashy, he's quiet about it," said an aide to a Hispanic House member, "but when you're around Rick Scott enough you know he's pro-Hispanic all the way. He listens to us and he gets a lot of his ideas from us. I think his term has been like a partnership with the Hispanic community."

But with Crist and the rest of the Democrats sharpening their knives and preparing to skew the numbers, quiet may not work. Scott may have to do a lot more showing than telling. It's unlikely that three and four years later, Alcee Hastings' prediction will still ring true -- that African-Americans and Hispanics will remember and stay mad at Charlie Crist.

As Scott's pollster, Tony Fabrizio, explained it to the Miami-Dade Republican Women's Club, minority outreach -- especially outreach to Florida's 4.354 million Hispanics -- is key. It's everything. Minority outreach can make the difference in the 2014 election.

“Otherwise, we’re going to be the party of whites in an electorate, in a shrinking electoral pool, that we can’t win,” Fabrizio said. “Yeah, so we get 65 percent of the white vote. But if they’re only 65 percent of the vote, guess what? You can’t win.”

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423.


Comments (17)

Jack Tpr
1:41PM NOV 10TH 2013
Rick Scott is as much a friend to the Hispanic community as a dog is to a fire hydrant. If you need reminders of his "friendship", google "rick scott friend of Hispanics".
Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder, Republican Candidate for Governor
8:53AM NOV 11TH 2013
Governor Scott missed the boat; he thinks that Hispanics are only Cuban, big mistake, as a Proud Puerto Rican and a challenger do not agree that Hispanic will be voting for him or Crist. Wishful thinking, if I would get a dollar for everyone who tell me, not Crist or Scott will earn their votes, I will have more money than both of them combine. Time to put the new face in your posting; I am here for the long run, amigos. My message reaches twice as far by being bilingual 
12:56PM NOV 10TH 2013
Stop lying Nancy. Slick Rick has a record. It's not a pretty one.
FL Mom
12:53AM NOV 10TH 2013
In case our Hispanic communities need a reminder (which I doubt) Rick Scott is certainly no friend. Denying them their legal drivers license, purging thousands of them from FL voter rolls, making them stand for long hours, longer than any other group, just to cast their vote. It's all documented. This 'report' is no more than an attempt at the re-branding of a quantity that far too many of us are far too familiar with and we will not forget in 2014. Pink slip Rick.
1:43PM NOV 10TH 2013
and supporting William Snyder's Arizona style law that exempted Canadians and Europeans from being harassed. well-played Scott
11:19PM NOV 9TH 2013
It just gets deeper with Scott,,,,bring boots
7:38PM NOV 9TH 2013
scott will lose the Hispanic vote, he will lose the dem vote, he will lose many independent's votes, and he will lose my vote and i'm a republican tired of his smoke and mirror accomplishments. don't look at what he's telling you he did, look at what he's not telling you. he's a government fraudster and nothing has changed. if any other candidate of any party had scott's financial background they would be crucified by the right.
3:33AM NOV 10TH 2013
I wondered for a while now if you weren't really masquerading as Bill McCollum, wpb. If you aren't, you sure are Bill's soundalike. Do you really think Charlie Crist was a better governor than ANY governor in Florida's history? Pick one, ANY one. It isn't for nothing he's called an empty suit. Will you please tell me how Scott coming into office in Florida has been anything but a triumph when under Crist we had a larger percentage of people out of work than the national average, and a huge state debt, and that was when we were getting stimulus money from Obama? Some government fraudster, that Rick Scott! All he did was come in here and reduce the debt to zero and lower unemployment month after month. I know it's election season, but when the most you've got is Scott's "financial background," you've got nothing.
2:42PM NOV 10TH 2013
typical i hate obama stuff. stick to the subject. here's a couple of scott disasters. polytec, voting rights, the environment, crooked agency heads who are just lobbyists, various education screw ups, the PSC, j. d. alexander's toll rd and he was against it before he was for it or the opposite a half dz times. the man is a joke and we have a clown for a governor.
William in Tampa
10:51AM NOV 9TH 2013
Rick Scott has done an EXCELLENT job as Florida's Governor. The folks that don't like him are on the left, and want more Socialism. Rick laid out his plan for governing FL before he was elected - and he has FOLLOWED THROUGH on his promises about as close as he could get. Once again, SCOTT will get MY vote!
10:18PM FEB 10TH 2014
said the unemployed jackass who listens to Rush
9:53AM NOV 9TH 2013
I've always seen Gov. Scott laser focused on JOBS... and that will help everyone and all minorities. When I hear voter suppression, its his responsibility to ensure only citizens vote and only vote once. Purging foreign citizens and those who vote multiple times and in multiple states or counties should be prosecuted.
Jack Tpr
1:42PM NOV 10TH 2013
such a problem that the attorney general can't find ONE FREAKING INSTANCE of that happening in 10 years. But purging 100000 Hispanic sounding names makes it worth it.
9:05AM NOV 9TH 2013
Yes, Scott's a winner with Hispanics . . . . . what, with the Florida GOP's rejection of Medicaid expansion . . . . and minority voter suppression . . .

Pathetic . . . .
William in Tampa
10:56AM NOV 9TH 2013
@Frank - How about some FACTS on what Scott has done to suppress "Minority Voters"? Maybe it's because he is against giving away more tax dollars to those on the dole simply because they are TOO FAT to work?
10:08AM NOV 10TH 2013
Guess that's why the Florida GOP's worst fear came true during the 2012 election: Cuban-Americans voted for that evil devil Obama during the 2012 election . . . . .

Yes, the administration's taking of Hispanic veterans off the voting roles solely because of their Hispanic name never rises to the level of voter suppression . . . . just as that demonizing right wing stereotyping that minorities are "on the dole simply because they are TOO FAT to work" . . . . . isn't in itself blatantly racist and absolutely . . . . .

Pathetic . . . . .
7:32PM NOV 9TH 2013
or he's for diverting public money to private profits on a massive scale.

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