Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: email@example.com
Nebraska media reported this week that Governor Dave Heineman is planning his fourth trade mission to Cuba, with nothing more than a hint that the trip might be controversial. That got me wondering whether it really is that unremarkable for state officials to travel to Communist Cuba.
In 2000, Congress created an exemption that, in spite of the embargo, allows for the sale of agricultural goods to Cuba. So far as I can tell, only seven governors have visited Cuba since 1999: Heineman, George Ryan of Illinois, Jesse Ventura of Minnesota, John Baldacci of Maine, Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana, John Hoeven of North Dakota and Butch Otter of Idaho. Most of these trips stirred at least some controversy.
However, close to 40 states have sent trade missions to Cuba, with legislators and agriculture officials often participating. In conservative Nebraska, Heineman was sure enough that the trips would be a political winner that they were mentioned in his first T.V. ad of his 2006 reelection campaign.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.