Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL-21) has announced that he will not seek reelection in November. There is speculation that his brother, Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), will shift districts and run for Lincoln’s vacated seat because it is more Republican dominant.
The two brothers, who were once nephews by marriage of Fidel Castro, are fervent anti-Castro activists who have been opposed to most efforts to dismantle the still active Cold War posture between the United States and Cuba. But times are changing, and the monopoly that the Diaz-Balarts and their close allies had in Congress on US- Cuba policy is eroding.
The most likely successful Democratic party candidate for either of these districts is former Cuban American National Foundation executive director Joe Garcia, who ran unsuccessfully against Mario Diaz-Balart in the last election but came closer to dislodging him than any other opponent. Garcia is a key architect of President Barack Obama’s successful connection with Miami-based Cuban Americans who were helpful in delivering Obama Florida in the presidential election.
Joe Garcia, who was recently appointed to head the Office of Minority Economic Impact for the Department of Energy, needs to run for office. While my own view and his about US-Cuba relations differ, he too is a proponent of change in the relationship and a strong believer in building agricultural and commercial trade, greater national security issue coordination, and people to people exchange between Cubans and Americans.
Running for office is very disruptive to one’s personal life — and Garcia has just moved to Washington after his last effort.
But while he thinks changes in US-Cuba relations need to be filtered through Miami, and I think that US-Cuba relations should be done through the lens of higher level national interests, there is absolutely no doubt that he is the only candidate who could change the dynamics in Miami and put US-Cuba relations on a healthier, 21st century track.
Joe Garcia really needs to run. Those of you who know him — tell him.
— Steve Clemons