Jeb Bush to Court Critical Latino, Puerto Rican Votes in Central Florida
Current Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush recently made a long-awaited return to the Sunshine State to reconnect with his old supporters and appeal to the state’s rapidly rising Latino population.
According to the Washington Post, Monday, July 27 marked Bush’s first campaign efforts in Florida since 2002.
During the eight years since Bush left the governor’s mansion, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans have fled to Central Florida to escape the economic woes and instability of their home territory.
Because Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, everyone born there is a U.S. citizen. They can vote in Florida elections as soon as they take up residence there. At least one million Puerto Ricans now live in Florida, making up a huge chunk of the state’s voter population.
“That’s why it’s so important for him to have events,” said Emily Benavides, manager of Hispanic outreach for the Bush campaign. “So that the governor can talk to them about his record as governor, and about restoring opportunities and balancing the budget, making sure that everyone can succeed.”
During his campaign tour of Central Florida, Bush sat down for a Spanish-language interview with Telemundo, a first for any presidential candidate.
According to Fox News Latino, Bush then met with pastors at Orlando’s Centro Internacional de la Familia; increasingly, pastors play an influential role in the Latino community, especially when it comes to hot-button political issues.
From there, he took a small business tour in Longwood followed by a town hall-style meeting. Many Latino small business owners will be looking to Bush for political solutions that will help their businesses grow. When cyber security breaches affected some 87% of small businesses in 2012 alone, these business owners will also be expecting Bush to offer potential legislative solutions to safeguard businesses’ computer networks.
This isn’t the first time Bush has focused his attention on the Latino and Puerto Rican population. Earlier this year, he visited Puerto Rico, expressing his support for the territory’s statehood and for giving it the right to file bankruptcy under U.S. bankruptcy law.
While Florida’s Republican presidential primary isn’t until March 15, it’s never too early for a candidate to appeal to voters in this hotly-contested swing state, especially with 16 other people vying for the Republican presidential nomination.
Currently, Bush has a major lead in the Florida polls — 28% — over a fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio, who has just 16% of the vote. A decisive victory in the Florida primary would set the winner on course for the nomination.