Shifting tides around Cuba
By Al Kamen
Monday, October 26, 2009
President Obama heads off to Florida on Monday to meet service members at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville and then proceeds to a heavy-duty fundraiser for House and Senate candidates at the Fontainebleau, a historic hotel in Miami Beach. Those who have given or raised a combined $100,000 will be able to have a few drinks, a picture taken with the POTUS and a table at the VIP dinner. Or it's $30,400 for a couple for everything, and just $500 a person for cocktails only.
There may be some interesting first-time contributions from the largely Republican-leaning Cuban American community. Public Campaign, a nonpartisan campaign finance and watchdog group, says in an upcoming report that a Cuban American financial network, which takes a hard line against any weakening of current trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, has been rapidly increasing its contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The DSCC raised $26,250 from the pro-embargo network in the 2006 election cycle and $88,800 in the 2008 election cycle, Public Campaign is expected to report. But in the first eight months of 2009, the DSCC raised $145,700 from that network, and the fundraiser in Miami could well raise more. (This surge comes while the DSCC's general fundraising is way down from 2007.)
It could be that there was no great reason for these folks to contribute to the Democrats before, but there's growing concern that Obama and his party might be able to put some serious cracks in the long-standing wall around Cuba. So maybe it's time to shore up pro-embargo Democrats? Some pro-embargo folks are on the host committee, including Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a hard-liner on Cuba who chairs the DSCC, and two Floridians, Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Another Florida Democrat among the hosts, Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, who's running for the Senate, favors keeping the embargo intact but also supported easing travel for Cuban Americans to the island.