Puerto Rico may have a new governor, but the resident commissioner is staying.
Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who was first elected alongside Gov. Luis Fortuño in 2008, will get four more years as Puerto Rico’s representative in Washington, D.C. He was re-elected by a small margin—48.43 percent to 47.26 percent—over Rafael Cox Alomar, candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) and governor-elect Alejandro Garcia Padilla’s running mate.
This isn’t the first time the resident commissioner and the governor are from different parties. In fact, Fortuño found himself in the same situation when he was elected as resident commissioner in 2004 and his running mate, former Gov. Pedro Rossello, failed to make the cut. However, that time, Fortuño’s New Progressive Party (PNP) dominated over PPD’s Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila with the majority of elected officials. This time around, the PPD has the majority in Puerto Rico’s house of representatives, the senate and city halls across the island.
Pedro Pierluisi: PNP’s highest ranking official
Pierluisi now becomes the highest-ranked elected official in his party, New Progressive Party (PNP), and many are talking about him for a run to the governor’s seat in 2016.
Although Garcia Padilla and Pierluisi are both Democrats when it comes to American politics, Pierluisi is in favor of statehood for Puerto Rico and Garcia Padilla is for the current status.
For now, the resident commissioner has vowed to present the results of the plebiscite on status to lawmakers in Washington. The winning options in the plebiscite indicated that Puerto Ricans are not pleased with the current territorial status and want Puerto Rico to become the 51st state. Many have dismissed the results so far, saying that they are not valid. Critics include Garcia Padilla, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J) and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), who represents New York’s district 12 and is the only Puerto Rican woman to have been elected to Congress. Last week, when giving a comment to Puerto Rican daily newspaper El Nuevo Dia about the plebiscite and the island becoming a state, Velazquez simply said, “Oh, please.”
Nevertheless, Pierluisi has his allies in Congress—House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed him during his campaign—though it remains to be seen whether this term will be an uphill battle for the resident commissioner and his top goal to get statehood for the island.