Latinos in Rhode Island make up 8.6 percent of eligible voters in the state. And that is why the Ocean State is one of 12 where the share of eligible Latino voters is larger than the current polling margin between gubernatorial candidates, according to a report by Latino Decisions, a survey research organization specializing in voting behaviors among Latinos.
I recently attended a conference at Rhode Island College about the health and social welfare needs of the Latino elderly in Rhode Island. And what struck me is something a couple of presenters focused on: the growing isolation of older Latinos here.
It's not something that was on my radar before, but it seems their numbers and needs are growing (there are nearly 9,000 Latinos in Rhode Island aged 60 and up). And really, their struggles are similar to those of other ethnic communities, even if language, education, and immigration issues compound them.
A new analysis out from the US Health and Human Services agency estimates that about 17,000 uninsured Latinos in Rhode Island may qualify for assistance buying a health insurance plan on HealthSource RI or for Medicaid. That's out of RI's total Latino population of about 112,000. Both seem like sizeable numbers for a state of only about a million.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has a potentially powerful message to use in seeking out of state contributions for his expected gubernatorial run next year: with the exception of former Florida governor Robert Martinez (who served from 1987-91), a Latino governor has never been elected east of the Mississippi.