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Puerto Rico governor loses primary to former ally

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi lost his bid for a second term on Sunday, suffering a rare defeat to a sitting governor on the island after a rancorous primary.

Mr. Pierluisi was defeated by Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, a non-voting member of Puerto Rico’s Congress, in the primary of the ruling New Progressive Party, which supports Puerto Rican statehood, the Associated Press reported.

Four years ago, Mr. Pierluisi and Ms. González-Colón ran as allies on the same ticket, promising unity after a tumultuous period that included the resignation of a neo-progressive former governor. But in defying Mr. Pierluisi, her former ally, Ms. González-Colón described his administration as out of touch with reality and ineffective.

Puerto Rican politics do not align neatly with mainland partisan politics. While Mr. Pierluisi and Ms. González-Colón both belong to the pro-state party, Mr. Pierluisi is a Democrat and Ms. González-Colón is a Republican.

In Sunday’s other primary, for the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the island’s current status as a U.S. territory, state Rep. Jesús Manuel Ortiz soundly defeated state Sen. Juan Zaragoza. . The general elections will take place on November 5.

Puerto Rico is rebuilding its precarious economy after severe blows from a financial crisis, bankruptcy, Hurricane Maria and the coronavirus pandemic. But many Puerto Ricans remain deeply frustrated by power outages, a housing crisis and the high cost of living, as well as the slow pace of rebuilding after Maria, a Category 4 storm that devastated the Caribbean island in 2017.

In the wake of so much upheaval, Puerto Rico’s politics began to change, with the neo-progressive and popular Democratic parties, long dominant on the island, facing growing support in favor of newer, smaller parties, less concerned with the defining question of Puerto Rico’s political status.

In Puerto Rico’s last elections, in 2020, one of these new parties, the Citizen Victory Movement, whose leaders pledged to focus on solving economic and social problems, attracted many more voters. youth. Another newer party, the Dignity Project, whose candidates ran on right-wing social issues, attracted Christian conservatives.

Ahead of this year’s elections, the Citizen Victory Movement formed an alliance with the Puerto Rican Independence Party, one of the island’s smallest parties. Their candidate for governor is Juan Dalmau, a former state senator.

Mr. Pierluisi was elected in 2020, after defeating his successor, Governor Wanda Vázquez, also a neo-progressive, in a primary that year. Ms. Vázquez became governor under unusual circumstances, after former Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló, a neo-progressive, resigned after huge protests in 2019. The protests began after private messages in which Mr. Rosselló and his closest associates insulted Puerto Ricans.

Mr. Rosselló chose Mr. Pierluisi to succeed him, but the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that the appointment was inappropriate. In the meantime, Mr. Pierluisi was de facto governor for five days.

During this year’s campaign, Mr. Pierluisi highlighted the achievements of his first term, such as economic improvements and completed or ongoing projects. Ms. González-Colón, however, condemned public corruption, which has long plagued Puerto Rican governments, and exploited public anger over daily pocketbook problems.

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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