Election ’08: The Puerto Rico Scenario

Lots of chatter (and a good deal of confusion) about the final contest of the Democratic race– the June 7 caucus in Puerto Rico. Michael Barone isn’t sure how the delegates will be awarded; but says that they will not be done proportionally– one candidate will receive all 63 delegates, meaning that “Puerto Rico is likely to have more leverage in Democratic National Convention votes than any single state….”

[T]he dominant figure in Puerto Rico identifying with the Democratic Party has seen to it that his faction gets all the territory’s delegates. PPD [Popular Democratic Party] politicians almost always identify with mainland Democrats…. It’s not clear to me at this distance whether the current governor, Aníbal Acevedo of the PPD, will have similar clout.

El Loco notes that the caucus could lead to, yet another, re-examination of PR’s commonwealth status.

…[I]f the pro-Commonwealth party controls the delegates, they will pledge their delegates to whichever candidate pledges to leave sleeping dogs lie.  If it is the pro-Statehood party, they will pledge their delegates to whichever candidate pledges to support Statehood, include it in the Democrats’ platform, and commits to push the resolution of the Puerto Rican status condition by pursuing a process that will produce non-territorial solutions, i.e., statehood, free associated republic, or independence.

Charlie provides a quick political history. A high-profile caucus on the island would certainly augment the examination of Latino identity that the election has prompted. To wit, as Mike points out, many Puerto Ricans on the island do not consider themselves “Latino.”

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One thought on “Election ’08: The Puerto Rico Scenario

  1. I agree with Michael Barone that the status-dominated agendas of the two major parties in PR – the PPD (pro status quo commonwealth) and PNP (pro statehood) will probably dominate some – if not all – of the primary chatter. One correction though, both the PDP’ers and PNP’ers have majorities that identify with the Democrats. Puerto Rico is one of those “hard to understand” , largely Democratic constituencies – the large majority of voters is progressive on economic and education issues but more than half of those are socially conservative on issues of abortion, gay rights, stem cell research, etc.

    Also, if people are wondering, the awarding of delegates is going to be contentious. Both parties in PR are having internal ‘wars’ between the boomer and post boomer leaders. They have both been tone deaf to the calls for inclusion and change among the younger crowd (which by the way, really comes out to vote in PR). So my theory is that the boomers of both parties, particulary those with ties to the democratic machine, will be pushing for Clinton. And those that have been fighting the old guard for a place at the table will be pushing for Obama.

    Puerto Ricans of all stripes love the Kennedys, so maybe Ted and Caroline Kennedy can take a short trip to the island and let everyone know who they think can carry the torch for that next generation of Puerto Rican leaders.

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