Monday, November 28, 2022

Clinton: ¡Gracias a la Isla del Encanto por esta Victoria!

By on June 6, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with supporters at a rally at Sacramento City College, Sunday, June 5, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Hillary Clinton takes a selfie with supporters at a rally at Sacramento City College, Sunday, June 5, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/John Locher)

SAN JUAN – Hillary Clinton was overwhelming Bernie Sanders in Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary Sunday, putting her within striking distance of capturing her party’s nomination. 

“We just won Puerto Rico! ¡Gracias a la Isla del Encanto por esta victoria!” tweeted Clinton, while on stage on Sacramento, rallying voters in California.

It will be a little while longer before final vote totals are known in Puerto Rico’s Democratic primary because the election commission has taken the day off.

Clinton, the former secretary of state, New York senator and first lady, reached the 2,383 delegates needed to become the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates. Those are party officials and officeholders, many of them eager to wrap up the primary amid preference polls showing her in a tightening race with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP surveyed all 714 superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months, and only 95 remain publicly uncommitted.

Roberto Prats, the island’s Democratic Party chairman told The Associated Press the commission will resume manually counting votes on Tuesday, adding that commission officials worked until nearly dawn Monday to count the results of Sunday’s primary election.

He said a final certification will likely be issued Tuesday afternoon.

“The entire state commission is not operating as everyone worked on Sunday,” Prats said. “We will resume tomorrow morning and try to close the local and presidential primaries at 100 percent.”

Hillary Clinton won the race over Bernie Sanders. She has just over 60 percent to Sanders’ nearly 39 percent, with roughly two-thirds of the vote tallied. Clinton is 23 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination, according to an Associated Press count.

Prats said that in the future, Puerto Rico should reconsider holding local and presidential primaries on the same day.

“It presents some operational challenges like long lines like we had yesterday,” he said. “We just have to learn from the lessons and make adjustments moving forward.”

Prats said the local Democratic Party was given roughly $300,000 to run the primary, compared to the roughly $1 million it received for the 2008 primary.

“I am sure everybody has an idea of how they can make it better, but we were working with limited resources,” he said.

Regarding the long lines at polling places Sanders’ campaign stated: “Some Puerto Rico Democratic officials are claiming that the Sanders campaign requested fewer polling places in today’s primary contest. That’s completely false. The opposite is true.

“In emails with the party, Sanders’ staff asked the party to maintain the 1,500 plus presidential primary locations promised by the Puerto Rico Democratic party in testimony before the DNC [Democratic National Committee] in April, when the party was asking to have its caucus changed to a primary. They cannot blame their shoddy running of the primary on our campaign. This is just one example of irregularities going on in Puerto Rico voting today. We are the campaign that has been fighting to increase voter participation.”

Compared with Clinton’s 2008 primary against President Obama, participation in Sunday’s primary was substantially lower than the 388,477 who voted back then.

There was no doubt in former Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock’s mind that Clinton would defeat Sanders to take Puerto Rico’s 60 pledged delegates.

“The numbers have been consistent from the start,” said McClintock, who was also Puerto Rico’s former Democratic National Committeeman and supported Clinton in 2008 as well.

While the Democratic Party had more than 400 electoral schools, McClintock said only 335 ended up opening. He said the long lines during the Democratic primary were expected.

Caribbean Business visited various polling schools, where many complained about having to wait. McClintock said some people left without voting out of frustration.

“I was not in charge of the process but the incidents of today were totally foreseeable. I wanted to have one polling station in each of the 1,510 units, and I know that at the last minute and by exerting pressure, we would have obtained the volunteers. But it was decided to reduce the voting colleges,” he said.

Clinton won all seven delegates available in the U.S. Virgin Islands and at least 36 of the 60 delegates available in Puerto Rico.

While Puerto Rican residents cannot vote in the general election, the island’s politics could reverberate into the fall campaign. Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have left the island to escape a dismal economy, with many resettling in the key electoral battleground of Florida.

Though Clinton did not spend much time campaigning in Puerto Rico, the victory is fraught with symbolism for her campaign. Eight years ago, with the presidential nomination slipping from her grasp, she rolled through the streets of San Juan on the back of a flat-bed truck, wooing voters to a soundtrack of blasting Latin music.

She beat then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama with nearly 68 percent of the vote.

“I’m for Hillary, girl,” said 83-year-old Candida Dones on Sunday as she cast her ballot. “I can’t wait for a female president. She’s one of us. She wears the pants. If we don’t look out for our own interests, who will?”

Both Clinton and Sanders spent Sunday in California, the biggest prize among the six states voting on Tuesday. Sanders shook hands and stopped for photos during a stroll of more than an hour along the shops, restaurants and amusement park rides of the Santa Monica Pier.

While those watching the results in Puerto Rico focused on their impact on the race for the Democratic nomination, the focus of many voters on the island was its ongoing economic crisis.

Both Sanders and Clinton have pledged to help as the island’s government tries to restructure $70 billion worth of public debt that the governor has said is unpayable.

“This is one of the most important political moments for Puerto Rico,” said Emanuel Rosado, a 29-year-old Clinton supporter. “I’m taking action as a result of the economic crisis.”

Two weeks before the primary, Sanders criticized a rescue deal negotiated by U.S. House leaders and the Obama administration as having colonial overtones. In a letter to fellow Senate Democrats, Sanders said the House bill to create a federal control board and allow some restructuring of the territory’s $70 billion debt would make “a terrible situation even worse.”

Clinton has said she has serious concerns about the board’s powers, but believes the legislation should move forward, or “too many Puerto Ricans will continue to suffer.”

Among those voting Sunday was Democratic Party superdelegate Andres Lopez. He had remained uncommitted, but said Sunday he will support Clinton.

“It is time to focus on squashing ‘El Trumpo,'” he said.

Eva Lloréns contributed to this report.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login