Absent from the list of possible candidates for the Democratic nomination for either governor or senator in 2010 are Latinos. It's nothing new. The Democrats have never run a Latino for governor or the Senate, and they've never elected one to the U.S. House of Representatives. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to name a high-profile Hispanic Democrat to ever come out of Florida. Meanwhile, Republicans have found electoral success with Mel Martinez and Bob Martinez (no relation, and, yes, Bob is of Spanish decent). Former state speaker Marco Rubio might indeed find himself a serious contender for their 2010 Senate nomination. Compare that to former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who found little support when he made a bid for Senate in 2002.
The Florida Democratic Party's future may very well rely on its success with attracting Hispanic voters. While Hispanic voters in other states tend to lean Democrat, in Florida, Democrats only recently took a slim lead over Republicans in Hispanic registration. Meanwhile, nearly 30 percent remains registered with no party or a third party.
Hispanics make up about 11 to 14 percent of the electorate in any Florida election, a number that will only grow. Meanwhile, Democrats have done a horrible job of finding Hispanic leaders within their own party, and the current crop of senator and governor wannabes reflects that.
It's sad when even the Whig party has historically been more successful in electing Hispanics to major Florida-wide offices. Joseph Marion Hernández, Florida's first congressional delegate from our days as a territory, belonged to that party.