The Republican National Committee’s State Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach, Pablo Pantoja, announced his resignation on Monday while also declaring he is now registered as a Democrat.
Pantoja was to serve as the RNC’s Director of Hispanic Outreach for Florida, notes Think Progress. Florida is a state that has a huge Hispanic population and popular Hispanic U.S Sen. Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party whose name is mentioned as a potential presidential candidate.
In the 2012 presidential election, Hispanic voters turned out for President Obama. According to the Pew Research Center, President Obama got 60 percent of the Hispanic vote compared to 39 percent for Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Florida has the third-largest Hispanic population in the United States, behind California and Texas.
Florida was pivotal to the RNC’s plans for the next presidential election, and the defection of Pantoja could be another moment that paints the Republican Party as “out of touch” as they attempt to revise their image.
Pantoja explained his reasons to resign as the RNC’s director of Florida Hispanic Outreach as stemming from the Republican Party's intolerance. In Pantoja’s email, published by the Florida Nation, he says, “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.”
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Pantoja discusses the Heritage Foundation’s controversial report released last week. As the New York Times points out, the Foundation’s report claimed the immigration reform bill would cost American taxpayers $6.3 trillion while also making the claim that Hispanics had a lower IQ than other racial groups. Pantoja cites the research as saying, “No one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against.” The report’s authors soon resigned following the controversy.
In his letter, Pantoja cites other examples that led him to resign and register as a Democrat, stating, “The discourse that moves the Republican Party is filled with this anti-immigrant movement and overall radicalization that is far removed from reality.”