Nine days ago, Florida Senate President (and U.S. Senate Candidate) Mike Haridopolos appeared before a cheering tea party crowd chanting, “E-Verify, E-Verify!” on the steps of the historic capitol. Today similarly large crowd gathered to send him a different message.
“If we can’t count on you in 2011, don’t count on us in 2012,” said Felipe Matos, who was among the protestors of the “We are Florida” campaign who arrived to protest immigration enforcement measures they said would promote racial profiling.
They carried signs with slogans like “Florida is not Arizona” and “education, not deportation.”
Martha Gallo had a sign that read: Somos Florida Viva Jeb Bush.
“I’m a Republican,” she said. “The Republican party is really, really confused.”
Through a translator, Gallo spoke of the contrast between Bush, who would talk with voters in Spanish, and the current crop of lawmakers, who are supporting “racist” legislation. She said she was drawn to the Republican Party’s message that people who work hard can make a successful life for themselves.
Bush himself has warned about this and called on his party to increase its outreach to Hispanics. Today’s crowd included people from labor groups — the kind of folks who would be unlikely to support politicians like Haridopolos under any circumstances. But it also included people like Gallo, and other possible swing voters who came wielding an electoral threat.