Key Florida Hispanics Leave State GOP

February 16, 2014 in Politics, Top News

Ana Rivas Logan

Rep. Ana Logan, R-Miami, gestures in debate May 16, 2011, as she supports a measure considered on the House floor.

Former Florida State Rep. Ana Rivas Logan of Miami quit the Republican Party Monday, Feb. 10, citing hostility to women and minorities among her reasons for leaving. Rivas Logan appeared that Monday at Miami-Dade’s election office to file as a Democrat. She conspicuously tore up her voter registration card identifying her as a Republican at a press conference afternoon the same day.

“The GOP of today is not the party I joined. It’s not the party of my parents. It’s a party that has been radicalized and held hostage by a group of extremists,” Rivas Logan explained.

Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald reported Rivas Logan blasting the Republicans as “a party that attacks women and minorities—and one that asked me, and my former Hispanic Republican colleagues in the Florida legislature, to turn on their own people by supporting extreme anti-immigrant policies.”

State Republicans were quick to dismiss her move as politically calculated. Republican Carlos Curbelo of the Miami-Dade School Board was quoted speculating Rivas Logan might be a natural running mate for former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist—now Democratic—to choose should he run for governor under his new party banner.

Rivas Logan had served on the Miami-Dade County School Board from 2004 until her election to the Florida House of Representatives for District 114 in 2010. In 2012, she lost her bid for re-election following a redistricting plan that pitted her against fellow Rep.  Jose Felix Diaz. Rivas Logan graduated from Florida International University with a major in computer science from Florida International University and earned her master’s degree in that field from Nova Southeastern University.

Rivas Logan’s party switch follows that of Pablo Pantoja, Florida’s former director of Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee last May. According to Adam Peck, deputy editor at Think Progress, Pantoja was appointed to that position to help the RNC bridge the 20 percent gap in Florida’s Hispanic support after Mitt Romney lost Florida to President Barack Obama by that margin in the 2012 presidential election.

Peck reported, “after months of inaction by Congressional Republicans on comprehensive immigration reform and stiff resistance by Republican-leaning groups like the Heritage Foundation, Pantoja has had enough; on Monday, he announced via email that he was leaving the party and registering as a Democrat.”

Pantoja referred to a controversial Heritage Foundation study in explaining his decision to quit the party.

In that study, the researcher for Heritage asserted, “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.”

According to Pantoja, “Some Republican leaders have blandly (if at all) denied and distanced themselves from this but it doesn’t take away from the culture within the ranks of intolerance. The pseudo-apologies appear to be a quick fix to deep-rooted issues in the Republican Party in hopes that it will soon pass and be forgotten.”

Sharp divisions within the GOP over immigration reform appear to be the deciding issue likely to determine how much Hispanic support the party can expect to garner, or lose, in foreseeable elections.

In “A Survey of Hispanics and Asian Americans” published in December, the Pew Research Center concluded, “While lopsided majorities of Hispanics and Asian Americans support creating a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants, two new surveys also show that these groups believe it is more important for unauthorized immigrants to get relief from the threat of deportation.

“Hispanics and Asian Americans also say it is important that Congress pass new immigration legislation. If that does not happen, pluralities of both groups say Republicans in Congress would be mostly to blame, though at the same time sizeable minorities of each group say Democrats in Congress and President Obama would be responsible.”

The human toll and issues of respect surrounding deportation are among those reported as most important to Hispanic voters in Florida.