Rosselló Claims Victory Over Pierluisi in Gubernatorial Primary
SAN JUAN – With the votes cast in Puerto Rico’s 2016 primaries still being counted, the destinies of politicians vying to become the New Progressive Party’s (NPP) gubernatorial candidate, or become the NPP or Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for resident commissioner unfold.
Political upstart Ricardo Rosselló widened his lead against Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi early Sunday night in their race for the NPP gubernatorial candidacy.
Ever since polling stations closed at 3 p.m., vote tallies trickled in showing a clear, if not dominant, trend favoring Rosselló. During late afternoon, the margin of votes separating both shrunk to almost 4,000 votes.
Analysts had told Caribbean Business the race was still too close to call for a definitive winner, a far cry from lopsided affairs such as the NPP race for resident commissioner between Jenniffer González and Carlos Pesquera, in which González led by a huge gap, and the race for the candidacy for San Juan mayor between Leo Díaz Urbina and Miguel Hernández Vivoni.
However, the inevitable came about at 9 p.m., when a dejected Pierluisi arrived at his campaign headquarters in San Juan’s Puerto Nuevo sector to concede Rosselló’s victory.
“It hurts me on a personal basis, but at the same time I must say that the cause [the NPP] stands for is bigger than the personal aspirations of his leaders,” Pierluisi said, adding he had called Rosselló shortly before arriving at campaign headquarters.
Pierluisi characterized the primary as successful and well-attended, and in his emotional speech thanked his family, campaign staff and all who voted for him. He also thanked the party’s candidates who offered their support.
“We carried the message that Puerto Rico needs a change and that this government, which is virtually bankrupt, has to be straightened out. Puerto Rico is not bankrupt, the government is bankrupt,” he said.
NPP Resident commissioner hopeful Carlos Pesquera, who also lost Sunday, emphasized that the causes of the party are greater than the personal aspirations of its leaders, including his.
Pierluisi also said that as soon as the State Elections Commission certifies Rosselló as the winner, he would withdraw as party president.
Meanwhile, at the campaign central offices of Leo Díaz Urbina in Hato Rey, a smiling Rosselló arrived to a thunderous ovation, alongside his father, former Gov. Pedro Rosselló.
In his first speech before thousands of fans at the municipal committee of Leo Díaz in San Juan, Rosselló said he may possibly leave Monday for Washington, D.C., to lobby against the congressionally proposed fiscal oversight board.
“Today has shown that the statehood movement is the most powerful movement in Puerto Rico,” said the gubernatorial candidate, who faces David Bernier in the November elections. According to some published polls, Bernier is trailing behind both Rosselló and Pierluisi among voters.
In addition to thanking his family, campaign staff and candidates, Rosselló thanked Pierluisi for leading a “dignified” campaign and bringing out “the best in me and my work team.” He also called for the reunification of those who didn’t prevail because “everything that happened during the primary ends today.”
The Sunday contests included 43 mayoral primaries for the 78 municipalities islandwide, as well as dozens of primaries for district and at-large seats in the House and Senate.
There were primaries in nine municipalities to choose party mayoral candidates, as well as nearly 30 primary races for district and at-large seats in the House and Senate.
Gov. Alejandro García Padilla’s decision not to seek re-election seems to have caused a kind of paralysis in the PDP in terms of nominations at the legislative level, according to some observers. Still, House Speaker Jaime Perelló and Senate President Eduardo Bhatia seem to continue leading their respective delegations.