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A tale of two Miami cities for Charlie Crist: Little Havana protests to Liberty City love-fest

@MarcACaputo @springyleaks

Today was a tale of two cities for Democrat Charlie Crist in Miami.

The candidate for governor held a field office opening in Little Havana, on Calle Ocho, and promptly ran into the buzzsaw of the Republican Party. This is GOP country. Holding an outdoor event, as Crist did, was an invitation for disruption and, as noted earlier, the GOP happily obliged.

Later in the day, the candidate for governor had a totally different experience in Liberty City, a predominantly black area of Miami. He was adored by the crowds at the field-office opening there, according to Miami Herald correspondent Theo Karantsalis.

“He knows where he came from and he will help the people,” said Renita Holmes, a community activist. “As you can see, the black community welcomes him back.” 

So many supporters, about 300, came to welcome Crist that organizers had to move his welcoming speech outdoors.

No GOP protesters in site.

Why? Because the Miami-Dade GOP, like the Florida and national party, has really no foothold in any black community in the county or state. Of Miami-Dade's 362,000 registered Republicans, only 1.9 percent is African American. That's compared to 19 percent of the overall voter rolls and 36 percent of the registered Democrats, who outnumber registered Republicans by nearly 188,000.

Relatively speaking, the GOP is shrinking. Registered Republicans in Miami-Dade (as in Broward, Palm Beach and Orange counties, to name a few) are now outnumbered by registered independents (that is, those of no party or other party affiliations). The independent advantage over the GOP is relatively small (only 4,336) but it's a telling statistic about a local Republican Party that former Gov. Jeb Bush helped build to prominence in the 80s and 90s.

Unlike anywhere else in the country, though, Miami-Dade's GOP is heavily Hispanic: nearly 73 percent. Almost all of them are Cuban-Americans. They soured on the Democrats ever since Kennedy botched the Bay of Pigs invasion. Nixon had ties to the community, and Reagan then wooed them better than any other president. These Republicans, bearing the cultural and actual scars of Castro's communism that they fled, are super voters. They know the value of voting. They're far more reliable than Democrats and the even-less-reliable independents. That's why Miami-Dade still has so many Republican leaders, nearly all of whom are Cuban American.

History dies hard.

And in Liberty City, home to the McDuffie Riots of 1980 and placed on the hip-hop map by Luther Campbell and 2 Live Crew, there's a palpable sense of the past as well, of being shortchanged or kicked around or ignored. Crist said his office opening there was designed to send a message that he's ready to fight for the community and their votes.

"Education is the key,” Crist told the crowd as he stood in front of a mural of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and President Obama, whom Crist helped reelect in 2012. “My grandfather, Adam Cristodoulos, immigrated to this country from Greece, in 1912.”

“He had a dream about coming to this place called America,” said Crist, as he panned toward Miami-Dade County Public School board member Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall. “He also understood the importance of education.”

Aside from education, Crist also drew praise for his views on healthcare and restoring the civil rights of some convicted felons, which he helped do when he was a Republican governor.

“Everybody deserves a second chance,” Crist said.

Crist, who lost to Miami’s Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate primary where he also ran against Miami Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek in 2010, wants that second chance as well. 

 

Comments

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Miamimom

The GOP is thriving among the young, Hispanic and
black. The inner city urban republican club, Miami
Young Reoublicans, College Republicans, and
Teenage Republicans just to name a few of the active and vocal
clubs in Miami. Don't believe the media, GOP
is growing among those groups.

Highly paid Republican operative

Mom even I don't believe that.

Loud Liberal

Miamimom has been drinking the Koolaid again.

Luis

Crist can do what Obama did in 2008, promise the Black Community higher paychecks and free cell phones.

Miamimom

No Koolaid for me, just the facts. Don't believe the hype, check out the clubs online or go to one of their meetings. Mr Highly paid is obviously not, if you were, you would know this..

Rhonda

Teenage Republicans is an oxymoron.

MarvinM

Miamimom, you may be right about growing Republican club membership amongst youth in South Florida, but they are not the same voters as their grandparents (or probably even their parents).

They have their own views on same sex marriage, marijuana use, immigration concerns and the Cuba embargo, amongst other things. Oh, and the environment. And those views may not be the same as yours, and they may not be the same as current governor Rick Scott's.

It is doubtful that it was these young Republicans who were protesting Crist at this event.


Plenty of young Floridians who identify themselves with the Republican party actually believe it's time for us as a country to alter our stance on relations with Cuba.

Do you honestly think this growing legion of Republicans is going to vote for Rick Scott? He (and the legislature) just ran roughshod over the will of the local communities and said FPL could build two more nuclear power plants at Turkey Point (yes, there's a lot more to this story).

D

shut the hell up you loser democrats rhonda and marvin. No one wants to here from you losers about how you desperately need that piece of crap crist to win in your false hopes that he will give more welfare money from those of use that actually produce things you leaches. I'd be embarrassed to admit I was voting for the party of losers like you are.

Highly Paid GOP Operative

D, I couldn't have said it as articulate and insightful as you! We need you up here in Washington D.C. at HQ to write our press releases.

MarvinM

I am honored that D has mentioned me by name.

When I vote for my next governor, it won't be for one who rammed through legislation letting FPL make a killing by building new, I think unnecessary, nuclear power plants


D

Shut up already you loser. If you can't appreciate what a great job FPL is go live in the woods and make your own power you leach while the rest of us enjoy a company that makes our lives better and easier at a great price.

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