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Florida Representative-Elect On Latino Support For State's GOP

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Who's in the White House in January 2021 is clear - President-elect Joe Biden. But he is not riding the blue wave that his party had hoped for, in part because Republicans picked up seats in the House. And one of those seats is in Florida. Carlos Gimenez won the state's 26th District last week. He is currently the mayor of Miami-Dade County and joins us now.

Welcome and congratulations.

CARLOS GIMENEZ: Thank you. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

CHANG: So your win came as part of a big surge in Latino support for Republicans in your state. Tell me - how do you think Republicans did a better job messaging to Latino voters in Florida than Democrats did?

GIMENEZ: I think a lot of the - you know, the Latins and the Hispanic votes that we have here - South Florida - are people that came escaping from socialism, communism. Also, the - that particular message resonated with them. They know what things look like, and they don't want any part of it. And so at the end of the day, I think that that's really what resonated with a lot of Hispanics. They're not just Cubans, but there are a lot of Venezuelans.

CHANG: Right.

GIMENEZ: And we have a lot of Nicaraguans and Colombians. And so that message resonated, plus, you know, the fact that maybe our values align a little bit better than some of the values that have been expressed by the Democratic Party.

CHANG: Well, let me ask you - speaking of values, do you think it is time for President Trump to concede this election now that President-elect Biden has the electoral votes needed to win?

GIMENEZ: No, I don't. I think that the president has every right to a process. And that process means if they think that there's some kind of irregularities in different states, pursue it through the courts the same way that Al Gore pursued his - you know, in Florida in 2020, he pursued the courts and wanted a recount in Florida to find out who was the ultimate winner. And so, look. There's a process, and that process needs to be played out. And at the end, that process will work. And in the end, some - you know, a winner will be determined, and that will be the next president of the United States.

CHANG: However, in states where Trump is disputing the count, I mean, how does the math actually work for him to overcome a lead of several thousands of votes?

GIMENEZ: Well, look. In - I was - here. I'll give you an example. In Miami, back in (inaudible), there was a person that was declared the winner as the mayor of Miami. (Inaudible) absentee ballot fraud. The - all the absentee ballots were thrown out. And then the - not the challenger - the person that was the mayor who had to defeat - supposedly defeated by this individual was put back in power after four months of the other individual actually being the mayor.

So there's - you know, strange things have happened. And so, again, we need to let (inaudible) out, and the president has every right to, you know, challenge the results. And then again, there's a process with that. It'll be challenged in the courts, and the courts will determine whether he has a valid argument or not. So we just need to, you know - I think we need to let the process work itself out.

CHANG: OK. It sounds like we're having a little bit of trouble with your line, but I want to turn specifically to the pandemic now. You are...

GIMENEZ: Sure.

CHANG: ...A mayor in an area that was a hot spot for the coronavirus earlier this year. And you chose to take more aggressive steps than the Republican governor in your state, such as a mask mandate with a $100 fine. How do you get more governors on board with what you were trying to do as mayor of Miami-Dade County?

GIMENEZ: That - you know, each governor - the governor and I really didn't have (inaudible) allowed me to do the things that I wanted to do in Miami-Dade because we had a different scenario here in Miami-Dade. We had a much higher incidence of a positivity rate. We have very urbanized area - parts - other parts of the state of Florida not as urbanized...

CHANG: So you don't support President-elect Biden's wishes to create a mask mandate for the entire country.

GIMENEZ: I think that that's on an individual basis - all depends on the individual circumstance. In Miami-Dade County, we had a higher incidence of positivity. We had a higher incidence of hospitalizations. And so I took the...

CHANG: Right.

GIMENEZ: ...Measures that I thought...

CHANG: OK.

GIMENEZ: ...Were appropriate for Miami-Dade County. And so, look. The entire nation...

CHANG: I am so sorry. We will have to leave it there.

GIMENEZ: OK.

CHANG: That is Carlos Gimenez, the mayor of Miami-Dade County and the Republican congressman-elect for Florida's 26th District.

Thank you.

GIMENEZ: Thank you much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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