Collecting absentee ballots?

Via Miami Herald:

Amid polarizing sentiments in Miami over changing diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, a congressional candidate and state lawmaker elected to represent Little Havana is visiting, well, Havana.

David Richardson is in Cuba Monday on a two-day “listening tour” described as a mission to “better connect with a large constituency” of Florida’s 27th congressional district, which he hopes to represent following the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The Democrat says he wants to “learn more about economic and societal developments” in Cuba following Barack Obama’s 2014 decision to roll back some trade and travel restrictions set into place nearly 60 years ago following Fidel Castro’s rise to power.

His campaign says he will not visit with anyone from the Cuban government while in the country.

“A half-century of isolation did not achieve progress for the everyday Cuban, so I fully support a position of engagement with Cuban civil society,” Richardson said in a statement. “Despite President Trump’s attempts at reversing his predecessor’s progress on foreign policy, I am going to see firsthand how rolling back travel and trade restrictions has changed the lives of the Cuban people, helped private Cuban entrepreneurs, and strengthened the connection between the residents of Little Havana and Havana.”

Though Miami’s Cuban exile community has been known for its hard-line stance against any change that might benefit the island’s repressive government, supporting increased trade and relations with Cuba is a mainstream opinion in the Democratic party. And there have been signs that politics are changing in the historic heart of Miami’s exile community, where liberal, non-Hispanic Democrats have picked up wins in recent years.

But Richardson may be the first congressional candidate in Miami, if not the country, to make a campaign visit to the island in half a century.

According to his campaign, Richardson — the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the Florida Legislature — is meeting in Cuba with the owner and manager of Café Madrigal, which is popular with the island’s gay community. He’s also scheduled a lunch at the privately operated Paladar Atelier, where he plans to talk with the owner about operating a small business on the island and also with an executive of a private Cuban business services company to discuss the differences in catering to Cuban clientele compared to non-Cubans.

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HT: Dian Cecht