With Miami being Florida's political battleground and the Hispanic vote the key, the Florida Democratic Party announced Wednesday that it is ramping up its outreach efforts and has hired Sheyla Asencios to serve as deputy political director in charge of Hispanic outreach based in Miami.
Asencio, 29, donor relations coordinator for the University of Miami’s School of Communications, served as the party's Central Florida's Hispanic outreach coordinator in 2013. She provided support to elected officials, launched voter registration efforts and helped with media relations with Hispanic media. She later worked for former Gov. Charlie Crist and Annette Taddeo's team as director of Hispanic media.
“We absolutely are thrilled to have Sheyla join our team,” said Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant. “Sheyla was a tremendous asset last cycle, and I look forward to her continued efforts energizing and empowering communities across Florida to help deliver victories to Democrats up and down the ballot. ”
The party's Hispanic outreach efforts this cycle "will dwarf anything in the past,'' said party spokesman Max Steele. Democrats in 2014 won 20 percent more of the Hispanic vote than Republicans and the party is determined to expand those numbers this cycle, he said.
The effort will include year-round voter registration, hiring a director of Hispanic media, and developing a presence in Hispanic communities across the state, with a special focus on the Orlando and Miami areas.
"The RPOF chair said just the other day that they have the right message but have a “marketing problem” when talking to voters who don’t traditionally vote Republican,'' Steele said. "They still don’t get it. When you have folks like Donald Trump pulling the party to the hard right with racist, nativist rhetoric, and proposing mass deportation, they clearly have a message problem. I mean Trump got Jeb Bush to start using the term anchor baby, which he had previously condemned."
Steele said Florida's Hispanic community is rejecting the GOP message "by a large majority...But rather than sitting back while Trump puts at risk the millions they are spending in Hispanic outreach, we are working to run up the score and improve our performance,'' he said.
Wadi Gaitan, Republican Party of Florida communications director, offered the opposite view.
"While Democrats attempt to spin the broken immigration and economic promises of a Democrat run White House, the reality is that Hispanic voters are eager for a change from the old, failed Democrat polices that have resulted in a stagnant economy, an unfixed immigration system, and less opportunity,'' he said in a statement. "That is why our party is committed to holding Democrats accountable and sharing our message of real leadership and greater opportunity for all Americans.”