State of the gubernatorial race in Puerto Rico

by Oct 27, 2016Elections, Headlines0 comments

While down-ballot races in the 50 states have received most media attention, the gubernatorial race in Puerto Rico has also proved contentious. Coming out of the second debate, New Progressive Party candidate Ricardo Rosselló is the race’s frontrunner, with Popular Democratic Party candidate David Bernier working to keep up after a lackluster debate performance.

Complicating Bernier’s efforts is third-party candidate Rafael Bernabé, who accused the PDP’s candidate of copying his positions. Concerned by Bernier’s struggles, Puerto Rico governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla urged supporters of minor parties to set aside their convictions and vote against Roselló.

The islands’ economic crisis has dominated this year’s election. Roselló defeated Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s US Representative, by a thin margin in the New Progressive Party’s primary. Pierluisi supported House Speaker Paul Ryan’s PROMESA oversight board proposal; Roselló opposed the measure. The NPP candidate has called for Puerto Rican statehood as a condition of any federal requirements. He has also called for greater transparency and a crackdown on corruption, proposing a system where citizens could access the qualifications of government workers online.

For his part, Bernier has also been a vocal critic of the federal government’s actions. He has vowed to fight PROMESA in court if necessary, and has pushed back against the use of airborne insecticides on the islands. More broadly, he has called for Puerto Rican statehood and for suffrage to be expanded to citizens of US territories.

Whatever the outcome of the election, it seems certain that this race will ignite new battles in both San Juan and Washington.