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Miami Beach Commission Candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez Plays 'Hispanic' Card, Only She's Not

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - In an interview with Democratic Party leaders, former Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez argued they should endorse her campaign comeback because she is "the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the City of Miami Beach."

The only problem: She's not Hispanic.

"Well, I'm perceived as being Hispanic," Rosen Gonzalez said in an interview with CBS Miami. "I'm perceived as being Hispanic by all of the Hispanics in my community. I'm their girl. My last name is Hispanic. I know I'm not Hispanic."

Rosen Gonzalez has always played up her last name during her campaigns, with the word Gonzalez typically in much larger type on her campaign material. She was married to Emilio Gonzalez, but the couple divorced in April 2009. They had two children together, according to court records.

Robert Dempster, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, said he didn't realize during the party's interview Rosen Gonzalez wasn't Hispanic.

"It is a particularly odd stance for her to take," Dempster said. "Especially given that the interview was on the second day of Hispanic Heritage Month."

Maria-Elena Lopez, who also took part in the interview, told CBS Miami she had trouble believing what she heard from Rosen Gonzalez. "We all went, `Wait, what did she just say?" she recalled.

Adopting the last name of your Hispanic ex-husband, Lopez said, "does not give you the right to say you are Hispanic."

Lopez said she suspects Rosen Gonzalez uses her last name to garner support among Hispanic voters, who represent nearly half the vote on Miami Beach. "I honestly feel that is the purpose," Lopez said. "By keeping a Hispanic name, you are trying to confuse voters."

Rosen Gonzalez served on the Miami Beach City Commission from 2015 to 2018 before resigning to run for Congress. She lost the Democratic primary to Donna Shalala.

She is now hoping to return to the Miami Beach City Commission. She has four opponents, Greg Branch, Adrian Gonzalez, Raquel Pacheco and Blake Young. The election is November 2 and if none of the candidate get 50 percent of the vote, the top two will meet in a runoff.

The three Democrats in the race – Rosen Gonzalez, Pacheco and Branch – appeared before the party's endorsement committee, hoping to secure their support in the race. CBS Miami reviewed a video of the meeting, which did not go well for Rosen Gonzalez.

She was asked about a 2017 statement she made in which she said, "We need to give the cops back their bullets [and] remove their body cameras."

Dempster, who is African American, said the remark was "pretty egregious" given the history of police involved shootings on Miami Beach. She said she apologized at the time, then challenged Dempster: "Do you believe in second chances? I'm asking if one statement should condemn me for the rest of my life."

Realizing it was unlikely she would receive the party's endorsement; Rosen Gonzalez made a plea that they endorse no one in the race.

"And I think that being the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat in the city of Miami Beach, I mean, if the party were to endorse one person over another and I don't think they should because you have three wonderful candidates here, I think it would be upsetting and confusing," she said.

"I'm sorry," Rosen Gonzalez told CBS Miami. "I probably oversold myself. If you want to nail me to the cross go ahead, make me look foolish."

Lopez said Rosen Gonzalez doesn't understand what she did was wrong.

"It is insulting," Lopez said. "That is the bottom line."

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