When Republicans appointed Pablo Pantoja to State Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach for the Republican National Committee, they hoped he would be able to bridge the sizable gap that only expanded during the 2012 elections, when the state’s 4.3 million Hispanic voters supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a 20 percent margin.
But after months of inaction by Congressional Republicans on comprehensive immigration reform and stiff resistance by Republican-leaning groups like the Heritage Foundation, Pantoja has had enough; on Monday, he announced via email that he was leaving the party and registering as a Democrat:
Yes, I have changed my political affiliation to the Democratic Party.
It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.
Pantoja goes on to specifically cite last week’s revelation — that an author of Heritage’s false report on the cost of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill wrote a dissertation in which he suggested that Hispanics are at a permanent disadvantage because they have lower IQs — as the final straw in his political evolution.
Prior to assuming the role of state director, Pantoja served in the National Guard, doing multiple tours abroad in Kuwait and Iraq before returning to the states and getting involved in Republican politics. In 2010 he served as a field director in Florida during the midterm elections.
Republicans have for months tried to find ways to make inroads with the country’s growing hispanic population, especially in the swing state of Florida. Hispanics there turned out to vote at a rate of more than 62 percent in 2012, significantly higher than the national turnout rate of 48 percent and the highest rate of Hispanic turnout in the country.