By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is telling Spanish-speaking residents he knows their language.
Not Spanish, necessarily, but the vernacular of jobs.
In his latest campaign ad — the first of a $500,000 Spanish-language blitz — the embattled Republican says he’s not a political expert, but he understands the value of a job.
“Yo no soy un experto en la política, pero yo se el valor de un trabajo,” Scott says.
Scott grew up in public housing, joined the Navy and went on to earn a fortune in business. In many ways, the ad, titled Oportunidad, is an attempt to showcase the millionaire’s personal story of hard work and upward mobility — a message championed by the bilingual U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
The ad buy is also a tacit acknowledgment of a major demographic shift within the Sunshine State electorate.
According to the U.S. Census, Hispanics and Latinos now comprise more than 23 percent of Florida’s population — nearly one in four — compared to 17 percent nationally.
Scott has been one of than nation’s least popular governor’s since winning his 2010 election by a razor-thin margin. Recent polls show Scott trailing the likely Democratic nominee, Charlie Crist, by single digits, sometimes within the margin of error.
Significant support, not even a majority, from Hispanic and Latino voters could not only build a winning coalition for the one-term governor but also provide an electoral messaging base for Republicans ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
For now, Scott’s campaign, which pledged to spend $100 million on his re-election effort, is banking on Hispanic outreach.