Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, wrote at The Hill that Puerto Rican voters may be key to Florida races today.
“Democrats and Republicans are vying for the unpredictable Hispanic swing vote in the neck-and-neck gubernatorial and senatorial races in Florida. Puerto Rican voters are a key voting group in this influential swing state,” he points out.”Before Hurricane Maria, Florida had about 1.1 million Puerto Rican residents, and experts estimated that approximately 500,000 were registered to vote. Today, estimates for the number of Puerto Ricans who moved to Florida after the storm have hit as high as 280,000.”
Lopez goes on to remind his readers that Puerto Ricans have no vote in presidential and congressional elections while they live in Puerto Rico, but can register to vote as soon as they live in a state. One issue that is on the minds of Puerto Rican voters is Puerto Rico’s political status.
Candidates Rick Scott and Ron De Santis are on the right side of history for this issue. “Their stance is in line with nearly every Republican Party platform since 1940, which have supported Puerto Rico’s right to choose statehood,” Lopez writes. “And the 2016 Republican Party platform is no different. It states:
‘Congress should approve an enabling act with terms for Puerto Rico’s future admission as the 51st state of the Union.'”
Lopez reports, “Puerto Ricans have voted in favor of statehood twice in the past decade. And a 2017 poll found that 85 percent of Puerto Ricans living along Florida’s I-4 corridor viewed Puerto Rico’s status resolution as a top priority.”
Puerto Ricans are also more conservative than other Latino voters in the United States. “Puerto Ricans in Florida will have the opportunity to again place their support behind Republican candidates for high office — candidates they see as supporters of Puerto Rican statehood and their mainstream conservative American values. If that happens, it will certainly leave a mark on politics in the Sunshine State, and possibly beyond.”