US-Cuba Rejectionist Wall Cracks: Call Joe Garcia


joe garcia campaign.jpgCongressman 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


8 comments on “US-Cuba Rejectionist Wall Cracks: Call Joe Garcia

  1. norine hemping says:

    Joe, We’re with you here in Collier.


  2. Nita Garcia says:

    Indeed Joe, you need to run and we need to know how to help in your campaign.
    Nita & Tony Garcia
    (305) 552-7698


  3. John McAuliff says:

    Joe should run because he is smart, energetic and respected. I too disagree with his Miami centric focus for US policy change, but no politician ever won by dissing the home team.
    However, I believe the main focus in the next month should be the White House. The President should acknowledge incontrovertible reality and not renew Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism which is, after all, not supposed to be a political token.
    He must also finally level the travel playing field by giving the same general license to educational, cultural, religious and humanitarian visitors as he did for Cuban Americans, the people to people exchange Joe favors.
    Some signs that may be on the agenda


  4. Mr.Murder says:

    Does a freeze on spending include an end to agri subsidies?


  5. Outraged American says:

    The Fonz might be running for Congress. Will wonders never


  6. dianaW says:

    Steve: I’ve been off for a while with a huge work deadline (I’m an editorial freelancer and schedules tend to be chaotic). Back to the web for the first time in several days and am fascinated by this tidbit from Fla. I don’t share wig-wag’s pessimism re S. Fla. I actually think they are more progressive there than in the North and especially the West. I also think the Latino community in that part of Fla is way more diverse than just the Cuban-American faction, whose stranglehold over the years has eroded. My daughter, a journalist, used to cover Miami-Dade and Broward. I believe this area is changing and Garcia has a reasonable shot. Hope he thinks about it seriously. Glad to be back reading your stuff. I have at least 3 posts to catch up on. More later. DW


  7. WigWag says:

    As a South Florida resident I followed Joe Garcia’s campaign very closely during the last cycle. He ran an excellent campaign and came pretty close. This is a real pick-up opportunity for the Democrats but if Garcia runs, (which I hope he does) he will be facing a political headwind.
    Obama’s popularity has plummeted in South Florida. The progressive population is disappointed in him; Cubans, who are conservative by nature, are less enamored with him then they once were; Jewish support still exists but at lower levels than before and tea-baggers (we have more than you might think) hate Obama’s guts.
    Unless Obama can turn this around, the chances for Garcia in what is a swing district are marginal at best. He is dynamic and well-spoken though and he does have name recognition so that will help.
    I know that Steve understands that as the election approaches Obama won’t be reaching out to the Cuban government, he will be reaching out to the Cuban American community. The safe political strategy (which Garcia would endorse) is to take Cuba off the political map for a while.
    Of course, the same holds true for the Israel-Palestine dispute. Hillary Clinton cleaned Obama’s clock in the Florida Primary and the Jewish community in Florida which is older than the American Jewish community in general, is increasingly suspicious of Obama. South Florida Jews are overwhelmingly Democrats. Like me, many have never voted for a Republican in their lives; even once. Obama is motivating alot of the people that I know to rethink that strategy.
    Obama’s problems with the South Florida Jewish community aren’t even over issues that you might initially assume are important. Most South Florida Jewish voters support a two state solution any many have no use for the settlers. Believe it or not, Obama’s decision to pin the Medal of Freedom on Mary Robinson was a big issue down here. It got a lot of press and many people were deeply offended by it; Robinson is considered to be far more of an anti-Semite than Andrew Sullivan is. It got so bad, that Congressman Wexler (a hero to many South Florida Jews) traveled from synagogue to synagogue and Jewish Community Center to Jewish Community Center explaining why Robinson really wasn’t so bad.
    Even the African American community, which is a large and vibrant community in South Florida, seems less enamored with Obama and Democrats than they once were. This doesn’t mean that they will vote Republican; it just means that they might not turn out. There is a substantial black population in the district Garcia will be running in; to have any chance, he needs a huge turnout of African Americans to vote for him.
    The one bright spot for Obama, Garcia and the Democrats is the Haitian community. There is a large population of Haitians in South Florida including in Garcia’ district. Many are not citizens so they can’t vote. Those that are citizens are very grateful for Obama’s generous, efficient and capable support of Haitian earthquake victims. In appreciation, they might turn out in large numbers for a Democratic candidate; but as I said a large segment of this population can’t vote.
    I hope Garcia does run.


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