SOURCE: Lobbyist Brian Ballard
TALLAHASSEE, FL--(Marketwire - Aug 7, 2012) - In any election season, it is far from unusual for candidates to focus their attention on winning over certain demographics -- whether that demographic is women, retirees, evangelicals, environmentalists, or African-Americans. In the 2012 election cycle, there is one group of voters that stands to play a significant role, particularly within the State of Florida -- and that group is the Puerto Rican community. Fox News reports that both the Obama and Romney campaigns have spent time courting Florida's Puerto Rican population, something that has not escaped the notice of lobbyist and political strategist Brian Ballard.
Ballard says that the increased focus on Puerto Rican voters in his home state is hardly a shock, not just because of Florida's important positioning on the electoral map, but also because of the increased prevalence of its Puerto Rican population. "What many who live outside the state fail to understand is the crucial role that Puerto Rican individuals play in Florida's politics," says Brian Ballard. Ballard has worked for many years as a lobbyist, representing Floridian clients before the legislative and executive branches of the state's government. His knowledge of Florida politics has earned him the role of Florida Finance Co-Chair for the Romney campaign.
Ballard's assessment of Florida's Puerto Rican population, and its vital importance to the 2012 election, is affirmed by the Fox News report. According to Fox, the state's Puerto Rican voting population has doubled within the past decade. In fact, roughly 1 in 14 Florida voters are Puerto Rican.
Fox also indicates that both the Democratic and Republican parties are catering to Puerto Rican voters like never before -- but winning over these voters may prove anything but simple or straightforward.
"One of the biggest mistakes that a politician can make in Florida is to look at the Puerto Rican population as a completely unified voting block," says Ballard. "Many Puerto Ricans are small business owners, and they have all the concerns that small business owners typically have. Many of them are conservative on various issues, while others lean to the left in some matters. What is vital to understand is that Puerto Rican voters are very much independent -- which is why seeking to persuade them is so important to both campaigns."
Brian Ballard's assessment of the intense interest in the Puerto Rican vote is echoed in comments made by both President Obama and Governor Romney. Both men have expressed support for a national referendum that will give Puerto Rico the opportunity to decide for itself whether it wishes to become one of the United States -- an issue of obvious interest to Florida's Puerto Rican voters.
Brian Ballard is a government relations professional and long-time lobbyist who currently presides over his own firm, Ballard Partners, Inc. He possesses a wealth of expertise in fields such as health care, education, and election reform, and has represented clients from across the State of Florida before the legislative and executive branches of the state's government. He previously served as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Governor, where he oversaw 11 cabinet positions while also playing a crucial role in policy development.