Sunday, July 21, 2024

The future for Latino Republicans is uncertain

When Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican who didn’t vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016, considers helping deliver the key state of Florida to his party’s nominee again in 2020, he sighs.

“Oh, that’s a long time away,” he says.

When asked about the lasting impact to the Republican Party’s support from Trump’s approach to immigration and other issues for people of color, Suarez sighs again. “I don’t think right now the Republican Party is attracting Latinos or African-Americans in droves … even in drips,” Suarez said in an interview with POLITICO Magazine.

In 2016, turnout against Trump surged in Suarez’s part of the state, but not quite in the numbers that Democrats had been counting on. Now, a year and a half since then has seen several GOP-held Miami-area House seats become among the most contested in the country as South Florida’s Latino Republicans run up against the political reordering underway.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen retired and her open seat is among the most likely Democratic pickups in the nation. In the neighboring district, Rep. Carlos Curbelo is struggling to hold on to a district that Clinton won handily.

This puts Suarez in a precarious position: At 40, he is one of the most prominent of the next generation of GOP Latino leaders in America—he’s just not sure what the future for Latinos in the GOP is. Clearly part of the problem, Suarez said, is Trump’s defining issue: “I don’t really understand sometimes the national conversation on immigration.”