Rep. Ana Rivas Logan’s opponents call her loads of names on the campaign trail.
But one seemed to bother her more than others: “Nicaraguan.”
“They’re making calls to the little old Cubans, telling them, ‘Don’t vote for her. She’s a Nicaraguan. Your commitment is with the Cuban vote,’” a choked-up Logan said last week about her bare-knuckle race against fellow Republican Rep. Jose Felix “Pepe” Diaz.
Welcome to Miami.
This is a place where calling the daughter of Cuban parents a “Nicaraguan” is a slur even though she was born in Nicaragua and says so on her website. Diaz denies participating in or authorizing the attack.
The fact that it was 1) used against the Cuban-American lawmaker and 2) worked enough to deeply unsettle her is a sign of the hardball politics in Miami-Dade. And it stands as a clear sign that Florida’s Hispanic vote is anything but monolithic.
Just beyond the Spanish-English language barrier is a not-so-brave world of ethnic tensions, borderline racism and nationalistic pride that will subtly play out this election season — from the Logan-Diaz state House District 116 race to the top of the presidential ticket.
In the presidential race, Puerto Ricans are overwhelmingly Democrat and are expected to vote heavily for President Obama in Central Florida. Cuban voters, overwhelmingly Republican, are largely Romney supporters in South Florida. Nationally, the majority of Hispanic voters have ties to Mexico and vote for Democrats.
Pollsters beware. Sample Hispanics in one Florida region and you’ll often get different survey results than if you polled Hispanics in another part of the state.
The intramural Hispanic rivalries are bewildering to anyone from outside the state.