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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

As goes Fla Hispanics in '12, so goes Fla



A key element of the Democratic battleplan to win Florida for Barack Obama and Bill Nelson are Democratic-leaning Hispanics who went overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008 and then barely turned out in 2010. Last cycle, when exit polls showed Marco Rubio won 55 percent of the Hispanic vote in Florida, it represented 12 percent of the electorate. It was 14 percent of the electorate in 2008, when Obama won 57 percent of that vote.
"The Democratic Hispanic vote will be enormously important in Florida. We're really invested in doing better there,'' said state Democratic chairman Rod Smith.
The the Democratic Hispanic vote - heavily Puerto Rican and from other non-Cuban countries - in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Polk is larger than the Democratic Hispanic vote in New York City. A point person in the Democrats' effort is Betsy Franceschini, the party's newly hired Central Florida Director. Franceschini (despite the Italian name) already is a veteran organizer of Hispanic outreach leader. Since moving to Central Florida in 1985,she has helped organize the Seminole County Democratic Hispanic Caucus, and worked on the 08 Obama Campaign in Central Florida, where she served as a media surrogate and community organizer.
Later she worked with Organizing for America. She also served as president of the Puerto Rican Association of Central Florida.  She has a Masters Degree in Guidance and Counseling and a Bachelors Degree in Social Work from the Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Don't expect the Florida Republicans to take Hispanic votes for granted. In addition to the party's deputy executive director being Hispanic, Pablo Pantoja, also of Puerto Rican descent is the coalitions director. An Iraq war veteran whp still serves in the Florida National Guard, he did Hispanic outreach for the RPOF in central Florida during the last election cycle.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 9:39pm]


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