Popular Democratic Party retains control of majority of Puerto Rico mayorships
Election night in Puerto Rico featured a strong showing from the New Progressives. Heading into 2017, the party controls the islands’ governor’s mansion, resident commissioner seat, and majorities in both houses of the legislature. Despite the NPP’s widespread victories, however, the Popular Democratic Party won the majority of municipalities, winning 45 of Puerto Rico’s 78.
Experts say this divergence this is largely because this election cycle likely saw ticket splitting, with voters choosing different parties for up and down ballot candidates. They point to a significant gap between votes for mayors and votes for the winning governor as an example. In municipalities, they believe, PDP candidates were able to better connect with their constituencies.
The NPP hoped to make gains among local mayors, but ended election night with no net gains, winning three new municipalities and losing three already held by the party. While Progressives hoped a race in Vega Baja would deliver for them, the district ultimately fell into the PDP camp.
Municipalities have faced increasing struggles as the economic crisis in Puerto Rico worsens. Most notably, municipalities struggled with a failing Government Development Bank, and the prospect of being unable to pay contractors. Mayors dealt with this issue in a number of ways, a factor likely increasingly important in the face of economic downturn. Economic recovery will be an important priority for mayors going forward.