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Still Hope for a Haitian-American to Reach
U.S. Congress for the First-Time

October 17, 2012

By Dessalines Ferdinand

While Dr. Rudolph "Rudy" Moise failed in his attempt to unseat political powerhouse, U.S Congresswo-man Frederica Wilson, for the Florida Dist. 24 Congressional Seat last August during the Democratic primary election, which would have made him the likely first Haitian-American elected to the federal level, there is still hope for a politician of Haitian descent to reach the U.S. Congress. This would be an accomplishment of significant political milestones.

Haitian-Americans still hope to see this dream come true with the pre-sence of two candidates in the November 6, 2012, General Election : the Republican mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mia Love, and Jacques Rene Gaillot Jr., a Jacksonville Democrat, both of whom were born in New York to Haitian immigrant parents.

Born Ludmya Bourdeau, Mia Love entered politics nine years ago. She won a seat in 2003 on the Saratoga Springs City Council, becoming the first female Haitian-American elected in Utah County, Utah; she took office in January 2004. After six years on the Council, she was elected Mayor.

She is running in the 4th Congressional District, which was created after the 2010 Census. She competed for the Republican nomination against attorney Jay Cobb and State Reps. Stephen Sandstrom of Orem and Carl Wimmer of Herriman; she won the nomination on April 21, 2012 at the 2012 Utah Republican Party Convention with over 70 percent of the vote. She will now face six-term Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson in the next month election. In August 2012, National Journal named her one of "Ten Republicans to Follow on Twitter."

Nationally, Love has received campaign support from the 2012 Republican presidential nominee's wife, Ann Romney, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Committee Chairman and Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, and Speaker of the House John Boehner.

A poll published in June by local news organizations put Matheson ahead of Love by 13 points. But just last week the Love campaign released a poll conducted on behalf of the National Republican Congressional Committee suggesting that Love had surged to a 15-point lead. So it's clear that the battle for voters' hearts and minds is still being fought.

The other Haitian-American candidate who is on his way to a congressional seat is 43 year-old Jacques Rene Gaillot Jr., better known to his family as "Rene" or "Ti Rene" (Little Rene).

Born in New York City, he is fluent in English, French, Haitian Creole and conversational Spanish. When his parents separated, his mother stayed in New York, and J.R. began his world travels with his father, a Haitian diplomat. His father worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His career led to promotions as Consul General in Hamburg, Germany, as well as in Tokyo, Japan. Eventually, J.R. moved to Haiti to live with his grandmother Therese. After two years away from J.R., his father resigned and returned to Haiti to spend more time with his son.

Gaillot graduated from Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and attended the University of Hartford in Connecticut. He has worked as a counselor in halfway houses and also had consulting jobs with Citigroup and several telecommunication companies. He runs a political consulting firm.

He is actually the Democratic Nominee for the U.S. Congressional seat for Florida's newly redrawn 3rd district, a sprawling red district west of Jacksonville. It most closely corresponds to the old 6th district, which 2008 Presidential contendor John McCain won 56-43%. Except the new boundaries are even more challenging for Gaillot; McCain would have won this one 59-40%.

Gaillot's campaign themes are: Seniors and Social Security, Medicare, women's rights, jobs, military and veterans. Gaillot ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on August 14, 2012.

The 2012 United States House of Representatives elections in Florida will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 to elect the twenty-seven Congressional representatives from the state, one from each of the state's twenty-seven Congressional districts, a two seat increase due to the 2010 United States Census. The elections will coincide with the elections of other federal and state offices, including the presidential election, and a U.S. Senate election.

The 3rd Congressional District is geographically diverse. Starting from the southern part of the district, it includes the Pine Hills area of the Orlando-Kissimmee Metropolitan Area with small pockets of African-American neighborhoods in the cities of Sanford, Gainesville, Palatka, and finally the larger African American communities of Jacksonville, with mixed population [38.4% White, 49.3% Black, 1.6% Asian, 8.0% Hispanic, 0.3% Native American, 0.2% other ]

Gaillot is facing in this race three opponents: Republican Ted Yoho, a large-animal veterinarian from Gainesville who upset incumbent Cliff Stearns in the primary, who had previously represented the 6th District since 1989. Philip Dodds is running for election under no party affiliation. Michael Ricks and Kenneth A. Willey are running for election as write-in candidates.

Haitian-american candidate Jacques Rene Gaillot Jr. seemed like a decent man with fair positions on all the issues, according to many political observers. But his chances of winning this election appear remote.

The Floridian candidate was at the Gold Choice Ballroom, in Margate, Broward County, last Sunday (October 14) for a fundraiser sponsored by friends and supporters of "J.R. Gaillot For U.S. Congress."

If we can have a little doubt about the possibility for Gaillot to win the newly redrawn Florida's 3rd Congressional District, it seems like the female Haitian-American candidate for Utah's 4th congressional district, Mia Love, is on her way to become the first ever elected Haitian-American to U.S. Congress.

The latest Deseret News/KSL poll that came out lat week (October 8) shows the Republican Mayor pulling ahead of Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson in 4th District race.

Mia Love now leads the six-term Democratic congressman 49 percent to 43 percent. Dan Jones & Associates found that among registered voters, 36 percent definitely favor Love, while 13 percent lean her way. The poll showed 31 percent definitely voting for Matheson and 12 percent leaning toward him. Eight percent are undecided.

Jones surveyed 414 residents in the 4th District from Sept. 26 to Sept. 29. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

"She is really coming on," pollster Dan Jones said.

Love said she is "humbled and honored" by the poll results and the numbers show her campaign is gaining momentum.

"It means we're moving in the right direction and our message is getting out," she said.

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