In the days following the general election, it quickly became clear that Puerto Rican voters helped tip the scales of political power in Central Florida.
Democrat Darren Soto became the first Puerto Rican to win a state Senate seat. Lynx bus driver and Democrat Victor Torres is headed to Tallahassee to serve in the House. And voters chose 78-year-old Armando Ramirez to head the Osceola County Clerk’s Office.
The emergent clout of this multiracial community — credited with helping give Barack Obama the edge in Florida for his re-election bid — may have seemed surprising, but Puerto Rican leaders say it’s been a decade in the making.
The effort to build a nonpartisan political-action committee in Florida is the latest example that the Puerto Rican electorate is bent on wielding its power to elect preferred candidates and demand more than lip service.
“Candidates come eat ‘arroz con pollo’ [chicken with rice] and talk about their Puerto Rican college roommates to us, but they’re gone once the election is over,” said Puerto Rican businessman Raul Ramos. “We want more than that — we want a seat at the table.”