Tom Perez, the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, has endorsed statehood for Puerto Rico.
As first reported in Politico, Perez has issued a statement that he believes Puerto Ricans should have the same rights as those on the mainland and that his personal view is that statehood is the best method to provide full representation in government and equal rights.
Perez, who is the first Latino elected chairman of the DNC, has two siblings who were born in Puerto Rico.
The Perez statement is consistent with the 2016 Democratic Party platform, which recognizes that many of the challenges facing the U.S. territory “stem from the fundamental question of Puerto Rico’s political status.” The platform further recognizes that “Puerto Ricans should be able to vote for the people who make their laws, just as they should be treated equally. All American citizens, no matter where they reside, should have the right to vote for the President of the United States.”
The Republican platform is even more strongly supportive of statehood. It contains this statement: “We support the right of Puerto Rico to be admitted to the Union as a fully sovereign state if they freely so determine.”
On June 11, Puerto Rico held a plebiscite in which 97% of voters chose statehood over independence/free association and the island’s current status as a U.S. territory. There has been controversy surrounding voter turnout, which was 23% according to the Puerto Rico State Commission on Elections although the Office of the PNP (New Progressive Political Party of Puerto Rico) issued an analysis indicating that 31% of effective voters went to the polls. A bipartisan domestic and international observation delegation confirmed the results and disregarded the boycott urged by opponents of the vote.
Other Democrats who have spoken in favor of Puerto Rico statehood since the plebiscite include House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Darren Soto (D-FL)