Primary Upset Removes Puerto Rico Governor from Re-Election Race

By LG Staff

By LG Staff

June 3, 2024

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi conceded defeat on Sunday night after losing a primary election to Rep. Jenniffer González, the island’s resident commissioner and nonvoting member of Congress, effectively ending his bid for re-election.

In his concession speech, Pierluisi described the loss as “very painful” and unexpected. He congratulated González on her victory and wished her success as the New Progressive Party’s (PNP) gubernatorial candidate. The PNP supports statehood for Puerto Rico.

With 76% of votes counted early Monday, González had secured 136,281 votes (56%), while Pierluisi received 105,548 votes (44%), according to Puerto Rico’s electoral commission.

This surprising defeat came four years after González and Pierluisi campaigned together on a joint ticket to secure their current positions. At that time, they aimed to restore the party’s reputation following the resignation of pro-statehood governor Ricardo Rosselló, who stepped down amid scandal involving leaked private chats.

Unlike the mainland United States, Puerto Rican political parties are primarily oriented around the island’s territorial status. However, as a U.S. territory, its public officials often affiliate with mainland parties.

Although both Pierluisi and González are members of the pro-statehood party, Pierluisi is a Democrat, while González is a Republican.

González celebrated her victory with enthusiastic supporters.

“Today is a special day for me, my family, my team, and all Puerto Ricans who chose change,” she said. “I will be a governor who is constantly present in the community.”

González is the first female gubernatorial candidate to win a primary for the New Progressive Party. Puerto Rico previously elected its first female governor, Sila María Calderón of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), in 2000.

The PPD, which advocates for maintaining the island’s current territorial status, also held its primary on Sunday. Puerto Rico Rep. Jesús Manuel Ortiz won decisively against Sen. Juan Zaragoza.

Ortiz and González will compete against Juan Dalmau of the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) in the general election on November 5.

As results were being tabulated late Sunday, the electoral commission’s website crashed, causing frustration among those closely following the primaries.

Officials worked to resolve the issue, stating they were unsure what caused the crash but noted that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies were assisting.

“If it becomes necessary to involve the FBI, we will do so,” said Jessika Padilla, the commission’s interim president.

Power outages were reported at more than a dozen voting centers, including one where Ortiz cast his vote. These outages necessitated a switch to manual voting processes. Power outages have become more frequent in Puerto Rico as the territory awaits the reconstruction of its power grid following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

In anticipation of potential outages, the electoral commission rented more than a dozen generators and a private power company identified 81 alternative voting sites with assured electricity.

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