In My Opinion

New appointment doesn’t mean Scott can count on Hispanic vote

Gov. Rick Scott wants you, Hispanic voter, to forget his anti-immigrant policies, his massive cuts to public education, and his raid of voter rolls in an obsessive hunt for phantom non-citizens.

Never mind his lack of support for undocumented college students who pay outrageously higher tuition fees, can’t get a driver’s license, and have staged sit-ins in Tallahassee to get his attention — with no response.

Or the curtailed voting hours that disproportionally affected Hispanic and African-American voters. Or his refusal of federal funds for transportation and Medicaid.

You’ll forgive the last three years of his administration, the tea party governor thinks, because he has put a Hispanic name on his reelection ticket.

After keeping the job empty for 10 months, Scott announced this week that his lieutenant governor will be Carlos López-Cantera, a former Cuban-American legislator from Miami and now Miami-Dade’s property appraiser. It’ll be a historic first for the state when he’s sworn in on Feb. 3.

And oh, yes, Scott had lunch Thursday at La Carreta!

All the love is only a bid to boost Scott’s appeal among the state’s growing Hispanic voters and the largely ignored urban dwellers of South Florida adversely affected by Scott’s policies.

All the love is only a campaign strategy to fix the image of an uncommunicative and unpopular governor facing reelection and low poll numbers.

Too little, too late.

There was a time when the state’s Hispanics, and particularly Cuban-Americans in South Florida, had little choice but to vote along ethnic lines.

Although they were growing in numbers and contributing to the region’s economic growth, they lacked representation in practically every sphere of political leadership.

As divisive as it rang to everyone else, one of the campaign slogans of three decades ago — “ cubano vota cubano,” (a Cuban votes Cuban) — was effective in helping create awareness of the need to vote, eventually leveling the playing field and opening doors to diversity in political representation.

But Hispanic voters have matured politically — particularly, Cuban-Americans, who surprised the country when they voted as overwhelmingly as they did (49 percent, according to a Pew Hispanic Center analysis) to reelect President Barack Obama.

No matter how loudly the party diehards clap for their candidates, today’s younger and more diverse Hispanic voters are more and more looking at issues, candidates’ track records, and whether politicians support solutions to their problems.

Today’s slogan: “ Vota para que te respeten.”

Vote so that you’re respected.

With the naming of López-Cantera, Scott and his reelection team are counting on that old ethnic appeal to help them win a second term.

Scott, who so often underestimates minorities yet fears them enough to curtail their opportunities to vote, is counting on Hispanics to make an emotional decision.

He’s hoping that seeing López-Cantera’s good name on the ballot will automatically give the governor’s record a pass.

But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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