Would Improved Relations With Cuba, Release Of Alan Gross Help Charlie Crist In Florida Governor Race?

Some political observers are offering an optimistic assessment of how Charlie Crist can win back the governorship of Florida as a Democrat, an important race for Americans who would like to see a more practical relationship between the United States and Cuba.

As John McAuliff, Founder and Executive Director of Fund for Reconciliation and Development, analyzes in a blog post on the Huffington Post, it would do well to ponder whether a diplomatic breakthrough by President Obama with Havana could help by showing that Crist’s strong recommendation of a new approach to Cuba was realistic and relevant.

A poll by Florida International University conducted this spring showed a narrow margin of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County who were registered to vote (51 percent to 49 percent) opposed any repeal of the embargo on Cuba, but 78 percent stated their belief that it was not working very well or not at all. In terms of potential Presidential action, 57 percent responded that they would likely vote for a candidate who is in favor of replacing the embargo with a policy increasing support for independent business owners.

Additionally, regarding presidential power, 58 percent of registered Cuban Americans were in favor of unrestricted travel by all Americans, and 55 percent of that group supported the establishment of normal diplomatic relations with the holdout Communist regime.

While the poll did not make any reference to the issue of imprisoned Jewish-American Alan Gross, successful negotiation of his release is likely to result in approval for Obama and indirectly for Crist, as the Democratic hopeful, in the influential Jewish community in Florida, McAullif opines. Incorporating into a potential deal the freedom for some or all of the three Cuban prisoners in Florida is not likely to make much difference to Jewish voters who have seen far more disproportionate exchanges carried out by the government in Israel.

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