Independent Candidate Leads Votes in Puerto Rico Senate
SAN JUAN—José Antonio Vargas Vidot, a Puerto Rican doctor who focuses on treating drug addicts, is receiving the most votes among all the hopefuls to occupy a Senator-at-large seat in Puerto Rico, the latest numbers from the State Elections Commission revealed late afternoon Tuesday.
Vargas Vidot, who founded the organization Iniciativa Comunitaria (English: Community Initiative) has gotten 42,864 votes or 9.30%, placing him above the former Senate President and now candidate form the New Progressive Party (NPP), Thomas Rivera Schatz, who has received 42,346 votes, or 9.19%. A total of 1,901 polling stations out of a total of 5,626 (33.79%) have been counted so far.
Of note is that in past elections, Rivera Schatz has gotten the most votes by far out of every Senate hopeful in both main political parties on the island. It is also the first time an independent candidate has taken the lead in a Senate elections.
Ranking third is Puerto Rico Independence Party candidate Juan Dalmau, with 37,907 votes. Dalmau’s high placement has also surprised observers, particularly when compared to the relatively poor showing of the party’s candidate for Puerto Rico governor, María de Lourdes Santiago.
Trailing Dalmau are the NPP’s Larry Seilhamer (37,205 votes), former Yauco mayor Abel Nazario (35,766), and Itzamar Peña (34,132). Taking up the seventh spot is the first candidate from the Popular Democratic Party, current Senate president Eduardo Bhatia, with 33, 993 votes, followed by the PDP’s Rossana López, with 32,358.
Two more candidates for the NPP, Zoé Laboy and Margarita Nolasco, as well as the PDP’s Aníbal José Torres, take up the rear of candidates that would go on to occupy a seat as senator-at-large if current voting patterns hold steady.
Meanwhile, various incumbent PDP senators, among them Miguel Pereira, José Nadal Power and Cirilo Tirado, are on the verge of losing their seats if their numbers do not pick up later in the day.
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