Rivera Schatz Announcement Changes Political Ballgame
SAN JUAN – Following Thomas Rivera Schatz’s announcement Tuesday that he would not run for governor in the New Progressive Party (NPP) ticket and instead seek reelection as senator at-large in the next general elections, various political leaders in Puerto Rico reacted publicly at the former Senate president’s decision.
Among them was Yauco Mayor Abel Nazario, who recently filed his candidacy for an at-large seat in the Senate and is vying for the Senate president’s chair. However, Nazario’s aspirations could be under threat now that Rivera Schatz’s decision of seeking reelection will seemingly put him in a direct line toward such a position. Despite this, Nazario said he is not the type of person to quit aspirations for a position, and that he is sure he will become the next president of the legislative body.
“I’m one of those of those people who doesn’t quit. We are going to win and I will become Senate president,” said Nazario. In a veiled comment against Rivera Shatz, Nazario added that all NPP candidates should clearly state their preference between the two main contenders for the NPP gubernatorial candidacy, Ricardo Rosselló and Pedro Pierluisi. Rivera Schatz has not yet endorsed either candidate and once said he supported neither of the pre-candidates.
Other names mentioned as possible candidates to the Senate presidency include Sens. Carmelo Ríos, Margarita Nolasco and the current NPP minority spokesperson in the Senate, Larry Seilhamer.
Resident Commissioner and NPP President Pedro Pierluisi, who is also one of the aspiring candidates for Puerto Rico governor, applauded Rivera Schatz’s decision and recognized that the decision to seek a senate seat reflects the party’s united spirit. “[Rivera Schatz’s] announcement sends a strong message to our party base and to all of Puerto Rico that the NPP stands firm and united, and represents the best ticket to win the elections in 2016 and help Puerto Rico rise again,” Pierluisi said.
Meanwhile, the candidate for governor for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), David Bernier, said he respected Rivera Schatz for his decision and thanked him for his determination to serve Puerto Rico from the position he is aspiring to. “Whoever makes themselves available to serve the country in such difficult situations always deserves our respect and thanks,” said Bernier, who is also the former secretary of State.
For his part, the other contender to the NPP candidacy for governor, Ricardo Rosselló, said he would have liked to face Rivera Schatz in a primary. He added that the presence of the legislator strengthens the NPP’s offer against the PDP. “I think it would have been an interesting primary between the three, and it would have certainly elevated the competition among colleagues, but each one of us aspires [to the position] from where we feel we can best serve,” Rosselló said.
When he made the announcement, Rivera Schatz said that even though he had the approval of many political leaders, he believed entering the gubernatorial fray would have brought negative consequences for the NPP. He added he will run for the Senate with the intention of helping reconstruct Puerto Rico from the legislative side.
“The circumstances in Puerto Rico impose on us a great responsibility that transcends individual or personal aspirations,” Rivera Schatz said. “We have to secure a solid triumph in the general elections to advance the cause of our ideals as a people. The collapse of the colony provides us with an opportunity to educate and create awareness of the benefits of statehood for Puerto Rico. Nothing can go above that.”