Damien Cave, Miami bureau chief for the Times, provided on Wednesday the latest story from a Times reporterinvested in the hope that Miami's Cuban-American community will finally rid themselves of its tireseome fixation on Fidel Castro's Communist tyranny and start voting Democrat like other minority groups.
This tropical city's three Democratic Congressional candidates came to the heart of Little Havana last week and did not once mention Fidel or Raúl Castro. Their audience was Cuban and old, but the message was new and economic.
"Many people today are failing to get their medicine or they are in a house they can't pay for," said Raul Martinez, the Cuban-American former mayor of Hialeah who is running against the Republican incumbent, Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart. "That is not the America we came to."
The audience cheered; he shouted louder.
It has become an increasingly common exchange across South Florida, where the economy trumps every other issue, and a sign of why the area's Cuban-American Republican incumbents may be in jeopardy after years of dominance.
With just a week to go, the races are tight.
Cave laid out figures showing the congressional race between Martinez and Diaz-Balart a toss-up; another Cuban-American district had Democrat Joe Garcia five points behind Repubican Mario Diaz-Balart. He explained that while another Democrat, Annette Taddeo, "appears to have a tougher climb against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen...but the gap has also narrowed. The Cook Political Report shifted the district last week to "likely Republican" from "solid Republican."
Cave led the cheers while setting the bar low - if any of the three Democrats win, it would mark a (welcome?) sea change in Cuban-American politics.
A victory by any of the Democrats could bring to Washington a new approach to Latin America, which has been dominated by the Republicans' combativeness with Cuba. It would also highlight the demographic shifts of the last decade in Florida, defined by growth among non-Cuban Hispanics and younger Cubans who are more likely to vote Democratic.
Cave then goes on to admonish the Republicans for attacking "their opponents' character."