Florida Democrat running for Congress hits the campaign trail — in communist Cuba

Florida Democrat running for Congress hits the campaign trail — in communist Cuba
David Richardson, a Miami Democrat running for Congress, campaigned in Cuba this week. (YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

Florida state lawmaker David Richardson, a Miami Democrat running for Congress, visited Cuba’s capital on Monday as part of a two-day “listening tour.”

Richardson, who serves the famed Miami neighborhood known as “Little Havana” in the Florida Legislature, is running for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), who currently holds the seat, is retiring this year.

What are the details?

Richardson described his Cuba mission as an effort to “better connect with a large constituency” and to “learn more about economic and societal developments” in the communist island-nation, according to the Miami Herald.

“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, according to the Herald.

“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,” he added.

During his trip, which follows a recent campaign trip to Puerto Rico, Richardson was slated to meet with various business owners to better understand the Cuban community. He will not meet with members of the Cuban government.

More from the Herald:

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.

Richardson, who is the first openly gay lawmaker elected to Florida’s legislature, is likely the first congressional candidate to visit the country in a half-century.

He returns to Miami Tuesday.