November 18, 2004


Miami Cuban in line to lead Senate: Miami Republican Alex Villalobos says he has secured the pledges of enough Republicans to become the first Cuban American to hold the job of state Senate president. (GARY FINEOUT AND MARC CAPUTO, 11/18/04, Miami Herald)

Mounting a quiet but effective campaign, Miami Republican Alex Villalobos is poised to become the first Cuban American to become president of the Florida Senate.

Villalobos says he has locked up enough pledges from fellow Republican state senators to ensure that he will become one of the most powerful men in state government in November 2008. If his victory holds, it means that South Florida will spend the second half of this decade with enormous clout and greater control of the state's purse-strings, because Marco Rubio of Miami is in line to become speaker of the House two years from now.

In line with his sometimes deferential manner, Villalobos initially did not want to discuss his successful campaign, but then said that only in the United States could the son of a Cuban immigrant reach this pinnacle.

''It's a testament to what a great country this is,'' said Villalobos, a 41-year-old attorney who was first elected to the state House in 1992. ``What other country allows refugees to come here from another country and then allows their sons to reach one of the top positions in government?''

He should have his sights set on Bill Nelson instead.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 18, 2004 8:22 AM

There is an anti-Cuban vote among Florida whites, not just South Florida liberals who love Castro but also among Whites all across the state. Martinez ran behind Bush because of them. The possibility of two Cuban Senators might increase this bloc significantly.

The GOP primary to challenge Nelson will be crowded and messy. It's best to steer clear.

Posted by: Bart at November 18, 2004 10:41 AM