Three races show Hispanics don’t fit a monolithic voting bloc
Many who comment on the politics of Hispanics in the United States do not remember when Cuban-Americans in South Florida favored Democratic candidates for Congress.
Those were the years of Bob Graham, elected both as governor and U.S. senator; of Dante Fascell and Claude Pepper in the House of Representatives; and of Richard Stone in the U.S. Senate. They were liberal on domestic policies but also opponents of the Castro regime in Cuba.
Cuban-Americans turned to the Republican Party for two reasons. One, was that they could not win Democratic primaries. And the second was Ronald Reagan, the Hollywood Republican who was as strong an anti-communist as Cubans in the exile community.
Now things in the country are changing. Polls tell us that non-Cuban Hispanics overwhelmingly prefer Democratic candidates; that they are true blue Democrats who are not likely to vote for a Republican again after their tryst with former President George W. Bush turned sour.
Some pundits try to ignore the fact that three Hispanic Republicans are favored to win elections for governor and the U.S. Senate.
In Florida, voters are fully aware that conservative Republican Marco Rubio has a wide, double-digit lead over his two opponents, Gov. Charlie Christ, now running with no party affiliation, and U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democratic Party candidate.
Most in this part of the country don’t know, however, that Dona Ana County District Attorney Susana Martínez has a seven or eight point lead over Lt. Gov. Diane Denish in the New Mexico governor’s race, according to the most recent polls.
And then there is Brian Sandoval, who is far ahead of Rory Reid for governor in Nevada. And, yes, Reid is the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Sandoval is leading Reid by 14 points.
If Rubio, Martínez, and Sandoval all win in November, Republicans will have three new bright Hispanic stars to show off. Democrats still have Sen. Robert Menéndez of New Jersey, but no new fresh faces.
How do pundits explain this surge of prominent Hispanic candidates in the Republican Party? They struggle to find the right answers for they continue to pigeonhole all Hispanics into inflexible concrete molds. All Cuban-Americans are conservative Republicans, which is no longer true. And all other Hispanics care only for immigration reform — also wrong.
Polls show that Hispanics are open to conservative views — 56 percent oppose abortion rights and 44 percent oppose gay marriage. Yes, most Hispanics will vote for Democrats, but Rubio, Martínez and Sandoval are clear evidence that things are not monolithic.
Guillermo I. Martínez resides in South Florida. E-mail him at Guimar123@gmail.com.