Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who’s vying to get her seat on the Miami Beach commission back, told local Democratic Party leaders last week that they should endorse her because she’s “the most high-profile Hispanic Democrat” in the city.
But it didn’t take long for that argument to blow up in her face—because she’s not actually Hispanic.
After being called out for her false claims, Rosen Gonzalez was forced to apologize, and insisted it was all a terrible mistake.
“It is being reported that I have called myself Hispanic. Clearly, I misspoke. I deeply apologize to anyone that was offended,” she told The Washington Post.
She later told the Miami Herald Editorial Board that she’s “always identified politically as a Hispanic.” “I’ve apologized and I’ve said I am obviously not Hispanic,” she added.
Rosen Gonzalez married a man named Emilio Gonzalez in 2001. She took his last name and kept it even though the couple divorced in 2009. She acknowledges that her children are Hispanic, that she’s close to the Hispanic community, and speaks Spanish fluently.
“That does not make me Hispanic,” she has said.
Maria-Elena Lopez, acting chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, was part of the Zoom interview with local leaders and said she was shocked to hear the candidate identify herself as Hispanic.
“By keeping a Hispanic name, you are trying to confuse voters,” she said.
The former commissioner has seemingly tried to capitalize off of her last name on the campaign trail. She’s been accused of having “Gonzales” blown up in larger letters than the rest of her name on posters and signs.
Rosen Gonzalez defended her false identity claims with CBS Miami by explaining how close she is to the Hispanic community.
“I’m their girl,” she said. “My last name is Hispanic. I know I’m not Hispanic.”
On social media, people were quick to compare Rosen Gonzalez to Rachel Dolezal.
One Twitter user wrote, “Kristen Rosen Gonzalez tripled down in her ‘apology’ saying ‘I have always identified politically as a Hispanic.’ WHAT IS HAPPENING.”
“When it comes to #Miami politicians the bar is never quite low enough: #KristenRosenGonzalez,” another commented.
In response to the Twitter backlash, Rosen Gonzalez reiterated, “My political alliances are all Hispanic, though I love and represent everyone, and I said that unconsciously. Again, I apologize.”
When asked to elaborate on what exactly that meant, she wrote, “It means that most of my political mentors are Hispanic, and historically, although I love and represent the entire community, many of my constituents are Spanish, and a lot of help provided to the community is transacted in Spanish.”
Robert Dempster, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, thought the claim by Rozen Gonzalez was simply bizarre, “especially given that the interview was on the second day of Hispanic Heritage Month.”
Lopez said it’s simply “insulting.”
Rosen Gonzalez served as Miami Beach City commissioner from 2015 until 2018, when she ran for a U.S. congressional seat.
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