Mr. Grayson Salsas Back to Washington

Jewish Lawmaker Rides Puerto Rican Support to Orlando Win

Relaxed Race: Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida enjoys a laugh in the closing stages of a landslide comeback to Congress. He won by cultivating massive support from Puerto Rican voters in the Orlando area.
Sarah M. Brown
Relaxed Race: Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida enjoys a laugh in the closing stages of a landslide comeback to Congress. He won by cultivating massive support from Puerto Rican voters in the Orlando area.

By Mark I. Pinsky

Published November 13, 2012, issue of November 23, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

The new 9th District is 43.4% registered Democratic, compared with 28.2% Republican. Hispanics constitute 41 % of the voting-age population but just 22% of registered voters. Grayson bridled at the implication raised in local media shortly after he announced his candidacy for the new district— soon after his 2010 defeat — that he was somehow hijacking a “Hispanic seat.”

In fact, Grayson was largely able to pre-empt any Hispanic candidates in the 2012 Democratic primary, because while in Congress, he assiduously cultivated Central Florida’s largely Puerto Rican, Spanish-speaking community. He brought hundreds of thousands of dollars of federally funded Spanish language, education, small business and development programs to the area — and not in just his district.

Grayson also supported issues important to Puerto Ricans, like a referendum on the island commonwealth’s status and on the cleanup of Vieques, the island just off Puerto Rico long used by America’s military for bombing practice. He collected his chits last April, when he was endorsed by the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, a leading civic organization in Puerto Rico that lauded Grayson as a “staunch advocate” of its cause.

It’s clear that this kind of attentiveness to Hispanics will be increasingly crucial for Florida candidates whatever their own ethnic background. The state’s Hispanic population grew by 44% over the last decade, and the Puerto Rican population alone — centered largely in Central Florida — grew by 76%, said Jewett, the University of Central Florida political scientist. A growing percentage of these residents are also actually showing up to vote. Currently 14 % of all registered voters are Hispanic, but they were 17% of the electorate in this past election. Thirty-nine percent are registered as Democrats, 29% as Republicans — a flip on the greater support Republicans enjoyed among members of this ethnic group until 2008.

“The main question about this alliance,” Jewett said, “is whether Hispanic support would stay as strong if a Hispanic Republican were running against an Anglo Democrat, Jewish or gentile.”

At his Salsa Latina victory party, Grayson accepted congratulations from half a dozen local Puerto Rican politicians. Then he pledged to continue his fight for universal health care and to reform tax policy. “Even the filthy rich have to pay their fair share!” he exclaimed, demonstrating, more or less, that some things about Alan Grayson just don’t change.

Contact Mark I. Pinsky at feedback@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.