Democratic Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo is one of five candidates hoping to win Broward County Commission District 8 this year. Diana Wasserman-Rubin — who currently holds that seat, but will not seek reelection — is waiting on felony charges for unlawful compensation.

Both Wasserman-Rubin and Castillo are Cuban-Americans; District 8 is split between blacks, Hispanics and whites.

Castillo recently told the Spanish language weekly El Sentinel, “Hispanic residents of Broward have in their hands the power to put one of their own in the County Commission to fill the seat left open by Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin.

“These are the elections where the Hispanic community will make itself respected,” added Castillo, according to El Sentinel.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2008 persons of Hispanic or Latino origin represented 24 percent of the county’s residents. With Wasserman-Rubin on her way out, Castillo bills himself as the hope for a Hispanic face on the County Commission.

A 2009 study by professor Casey Klofstad of the University of Miami shows that Cuban-Americans and Puerto Ricans make up almost half of all Hispanics who live in Florida (with heavy presence in Tampa, Orlando and Miami) and represented 81 percent of the state’s Hispanic voters in 2004. And both parties have targeted their votes since the 2004 elections.

U.S Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) and congressional District 25 candidates Luis Meurice (D), Joe Garcia (D) and David Rivera (R) are not an exception. All four are Cuban-American, and their campaigns have targeted the Hispanic vote.

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 immigration law has become a hot campaign issue in Florida (Republican candidates favor an Arizona-style law for Florida while Democrats oppose the measure), but law similar to Arizona’s would not impact Cuban immigrants or Puerto Rican residents.

Klofstad points out in a 2008 study that Cuban-American voting preferences in Miami-Dade remain overwhelmingly Republican, but “significant numbers of Cuban-Americans now support easing the trade embargo and travel ban.”

While Bush made big gains in Florida’s Puerto Rican electorate in 2004, the Republicans lost much of that in the 2008 presidential election.

What exactly does the Hispanic voter in District 8 look and think like? Angelo Castillo did not respond to emails from The Florida Independent.

Castillo will face Democrats Shervin Jones and Barbara Sharief in the primary. Republicans Steven Breitkreuz and Christopher Max Ziadie have also filed with the Broward County election committee to run for this open seat.

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