Posts Tagged ‘Vice President of the United States’

Maybe Puerto Rican pro-statehood and Republican Governor Luis Fortuño is campaigning to win the upcoming elections in 2012, after spending three years battling spiraling unemployment (16.1% rate), student strikes that made international news headlines, the island’s worst homicide year on record, Department of Justice investigations, and new reports that the Western Hemisphere’s oldest colony is now a “narco-state.”

Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño

Next November, the incumbent governor and his PNP (New Progressive Party) slate will face a tough electoral fight against the island’s pro-Commonwealth party (PPD) as well as its Independence party (PIP). The latest El Nuevo Día poll from this past November has PPD candidate Alejandro García Padilla leading by 39%, with Fortuño at 33% and PIP candidate Juan Dalmau at 3%. A mock election held in November on the island and sponsored by the media outlets NotiUno, EL VOCERO, EduK Group and Noticentro had Fortuño declared the winner by a margin of 21,440 votes to García Padilla’s 7,051 votes and Dalmau’s 594 votes. This same mock election also asked people about whether the island’s Commonwealth relationship with the United States should continue, and 19,248 votes said no while 7,876 votes said yes. More than 2.8 million people in Puerto Rico are eligible to vote, so this mock election represented a .01% voter turnout. In recent actual elections on the island, voter turnout has historically been over 80% of the total eligible vote.

Nonetheless, Fortuño, who has been mentioned by some US GOP leaders as a viable 2012 Vice Presidential candidate (meaning that he would have to move to the US mainland to run) but has gone on record this month to say that his only commitment is to be and hopefully continue to be the island’s governor, appears to have toned down some of his more right-leaning rhetoric and has begun to appeal to the middle.

Case in point: Fortuño has publicly distanced himself from the controversial hate crime measure that the Puerto Rican House of Representatives was considering. Already passed by the Puerto Rican Senate, part of the measure would be “to exclude eliminate sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, ethnicity and religious beliefs from the hate crimes statute that was included in the penal code that lawmakers approved in 2004.”

Last week, in speaking with reporters in the first “open forum” press conference of his administration, Fortuño did not support this exclusion language. As he said, “I would leave the language as it was before.” In addition, even though the Puerto Rican Senate was also calling for all abortions to be illegal and criminal, Fortuño said that federal abortion law would supersede Puerto Rican law. So Roe v Wade would still be the measure that would determine the legality of abortions on the island.

It is clear that Fortuño’s more conservative base will be there for him, even though he might not promote everything his political allies are pushing for in the Legislature. Now the question remains: if Fortuño now begins to paint himself as a more moderate Republican, will the island believe him after three years of a an administration that has caused more harm than good? Or the rumors of a potential VP bid true?

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