Mark your calendars: Oct. 8 and Oct. 31, the dates for debates between Democratic challenger Raul Martinez and Republican rubber-stamp Lincoln Diaz-Balart, FL-21.
I’m a little surprised. Didn’t figure Diaz-Balart would ever agree to it. What does this mean for the two other congressional races in South Florida, Annette Taddeo vs. rubber-stamp Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in FL-18 and Joe Garcia vs. rubber-stamp Mario Diaz-Balart in FL-25? Will the Democratic challengers finally have something to debate other than the empty chair at the many forums where they appear?
Michael Putney’s column in the Miami Herald gives a thorough rundown of the issues between Raul Martinez and Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Highly recommended reading. Putney is to moderate the first debate, sponsored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and co-moderate the second, sponsored by the Latin Builders Association, with Myriam Marquez of the Miami Herald. Putney also hopes to host a debate on his ABC Channel 10 at a date to be determined.
Meanwhile, the Martinez campaign calls attention to a Herald column by the afore-mentioned Myrian Marquez urging that the United States ease restrictions on Castro’s Cuba to let more hurricane aid through.
Raul Martinez made that suggestion himself as Cuba reeled from the impact of Gustav, and now that Ike has caused even more damage in Cuba – as well as Haiti and elsewhere in the Carribean – the needs are even greater.
No one with any sense is saying dump the Cuba embargo and kiss up to the Castros. But what's so wrong with a 90-day window for Cuban exiles to rush to their families left behind and offer help, as Democratic congressional candidate Raúl Martinez has suggested?