Latino Vote
The LIBRE Initiative Believes Latinos will Define the Future of US Politics
"I think that Governor DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio will be reelected in 2022,", says Director of Public Affairs at The LIBRE Initiative, César Grajales.

 In an exclusive interview with LPO, the Director of Public Affairs at The LIBRE Initiative, César Grajales, discussed the importance of the Latino vote in the upcoming elections.

Founded in 2011, The LIBRE Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization dedicated to amplifying the voice of the U.S. Hispanic community in the United States. LIBRE engages community members, leaders, and local, state, and federal lawmakers to dialogue about issues that are important for the Hispanic community.

How important will the Latino vote be in 2022?

The 2020 Census numbers have shown that the minority that has grown the most in the United States is the Hispanic community. This means that in certain states, like Texas and Florida, the Latino demographic saw the highest percentage of population growth. Because of this growth, Texas is going to have two more seats in Congress and Florida will gain one more seat when the electoral maps are redrawn.

These are states that have a high concentration of Latinos. The battle for the Latino vote will be much broader and higher for both parties because they know that our community will define, without a doubt, the future of politics in the United States.

In your experience, do Latinos vote more Democratic or Republican?

Some politicians have lost campaigns because they have thought that the Latino vote is monolithic, that it is left-wing or left leaning, when in reality the Hispanic community is won through public policies and proposals that represent their interests.

For example, in the 2016 presidential election, we saw that Florida was a very important state. In Miami-Dade County, which is predominantly Latino, the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, won the county by more than 30 points, in large part because of the Hispanic vote.

In 2020, President Joe Biden won Miami-Dade County with a margin of only 7 points, which means that former President Donald Trump advanced more than 20 points in a county that was thought to be mostly Democratic. That shows that when you do a grassroots campaign, going door-to-door, Republicans can win.

Mobilizing the Hispanic vote allowed Republicans to flip a pair of Democratic U.S. House seats in Florida in 2020, with Maria Elvira Salazar defeating Rep. Donna Shalala and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez ousting Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Staying on the topic of Florida, do you think the Republican Party will win the state in 2022?

There are several very exciting things happening next year, particularly in the state of Florida, like Senator Marco Rubio's reelection bid. The truth is that it doesn't matter if you are a popular candidate, each campaign is not defined until all votes are counted.

That being said, candidates that are running against Senator Marco Rubio don't have the name recognition that Senator Rubio has after serving for two terms in Congress and previously, as a state legislator. In other words, Senator Rubio has a head start. His policies will greatly benefit his reelection bid. He was the architect of the Pay Protection Program (PPP) that helped so many small businesses. He has also been very vocal in international politics, opposing the regimes of Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and more recently, the withdrawal in Afghanistan. In short, I think all this will help him win the reelection, but again, each candidate must fight until the end.

In terms of the gubernatorial election, incumbent Governor Ron de Santis' popularity remains above 50 percent. Many people may not agree with the way he is doing certain things, but many media outlets have agreed with the decisions he has made. For example, Florida's economy is currently doing better than it was before the pandemic began. Employment opportunities and income levels are high in the state.

Any candidate that will run against Governor DeSantis will not have as strong of an agenda to win over voters.

I think that Governor DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio will be reelected in 2022.

The pandemic has disproportionately affected the Latino community. Do you think that the health policies of Republican governors in certain states, like Texas and Florida, will negatively impact their strategy to win the Latino vote?

There is a certain segment of voters, that no matter what decision the governor makes, they would simply rather have a Democratic governor. But most voters in Florida approve of the Governor DeSantis' policies and that is reflected by his popularity levels, which are above 50 percent.

In cities like Miami, you can feel the support for the governor's policies because there is a certain sense of normality amid a pandemic that has obviously not ended and unfortunately continues to affect many families. But some of the governor's decisions have allowed people who have autoimmune conditions to have access to free treatments and medications.

Ron de Santis

The vaccination rate in the state is doing well. Unfortunately, we have not reached higher levels of vaccinated individuals, not due to a lack of vaccines, but because it is a personal matter and there are people who unfortunately have not taken it seriously. I think that's the real issue, it is not the governor's fault. People must make it a personal responsibility to get vaccinated to end the pandemic as soon as possible.

On the subject of masks, although it has been a bit controversial, I do not think it will negatively affect the governor's chances of getting reelected. At the end of the day, if the economy was not doing well, that would affect him much more. We have seen, for example, in California, where there is an election to recall Governor Newsom for making extreme decisions on the pandemic, as well as the Governor of New York who just resigned.

How influential do you think former President Donald Trump will be in the upcoming elections?

He will be key, especially because former President Trump lives in Florida, and he continues to be influential in the state. On a national level, he is very influential within sectors that believe that he did not lose the election and that there was massive fraud. Then there are others who do believe that the President may have lost the election, but consider that his policies were mostly positive, and they listen to what he says.

He represents an important electoral base and is especially popular within the Republican Party. The situation in Afghanistan is going to heavily influence next year's elections. Right now, it negatively impacts Democrats.

What does The Libre Initiative think of voter restriction laws that are being passed in predominately Republican state legislatures?

The issue of voting bills in the country has been interpreted as trying to keep people from voting, but I think it is necessary to examine what is actually being done.

In Georgia, many argued that the legislature was trying to suppress the vote, especially within minorities, like the American African community, when in reality, states like New York have much stricter voting rules than Georgia.

Many states are trying to improve the electoral system, which is a much better alternative than implementing what Democrats call a centralized voting system from Washington. That would be a disaster.

I believe that states have to control their own elections, learn from the mistakes of past electoral cycles, and improve their voting systems. For example, Florida learned from the mistakes of the Bush v Al Gore election in terms of recounts.

In difficult elections like in 2020, when the polls closed an hour and a half later, the majority of all the votes in the state of Florida had already been counted. The point is that each state has to modify its own voting system, improve the electoral process, avoid electoral fraud and ensure that people who are eligible to vote can vote.

When I immigrated to the United States, in my country of origin you cannot vote if you do not show an ID. That is the way it has to be in the United States.

You have to vote with the ID that corresponds to you. It makes it a safe system, it avoids problems, like what happened in last year's election, and reduces the possibility of electoral fraud.

The Senate recently approved President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill. Do you think that this will help Democrats win in 2022?

I think the Democratic Party will sell it as a success. But if you read all 2,702 pages of the bill, only 20 percent or less of the budget is designated for infrastructure projects. The Democrats call it an infrastructure bill when it has very little to do with infrastructure.

The infrastructure bill, in addition to the budget resolution that costs 3.5 trillion, is basically a wish list of Senator Bernie Sanders and far left supporters in the United States. They have included a lot of things that have nothing to do with infrastructure, but since the Democrats are so good with semantics, they call it an infrastructure bill. It ultimately hurts the legislative process because the Democrats don't want to negotiate.

The LIBRE Initiative has strongly opposed the infrastructure bill. It will be a waste of money. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is independent of any party, has stated that the bill will cost taxpayers 256 trillion dollars in the next ten years.

National infrastructure plan will benefit Latinos, woo Democratic voters, says Adriano Espaillat

President Biden talks a lot about unions, but he is outdated on the way the economy works today. In essence, the United States' economy does not work through unions. Only 6 percent of the US economy is represented through unions- teachers, the police, and firefighters- but the private sector does not have unions. That is why this country has grown. It has grown because of independent contractors. Take Uber and Lift as an example. Anyone can get in their car and work for a company for as many hours they want and earn a good salary.

Why should the government punish people and force them to be part of a union? When we talk about unions, we are talking about bureaucracy and bureaucracy generates backwardness. 

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