Joe Garcia And Other Democrats Challenging GOP's Hold On Cuban-American Vote


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For more than two decades, running for Congress in this sun-soaked capital of Cuban exiles has required two things: a Republican registration card and a hard line toward the Castro regime.
So when Joe Garcia became the first Cuban-American Democrat from the state to win election to the House in 2012, it signaled a crack in a critical GOP constituency.
In a break with the exile community, Garcia campaigned in support of loosening restrictions on Cuban-Americans who want to visit relatives on the island or send them money. Since taking office, he has pushed for U.S. trials of a Cuba-developed diabetes treatment and for easing travel rules for Cuban diplomats who visit the U.S.
And while Florida Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, fumed when President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro last month, Garcia dismissed it as a simple courtesy.
“Sometimes a handshake is just a handshake,” he said.
“It’s very difficult for Republicans to win this state if they don’t win a majority of the Hispanic vote,” said Dario Moreno, a political scientist at Florida International University, “and to win a majority of the Hispanic vote, they have to do very well in the Cuban community.”
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