People from Puerto Rico have won a number of recent elections for a wide range of positions, but so far there has never been a State governor who was born in Puerto Rico. That could change. Nellie Gorbea, the current Rhode Island Secretary of State, is running for Governor of Rhode Island.
Gorbea is also the first Latina to run for governor in any New England state. As Secretary of State, she was the first Hispanic person to be elected to a statewide position in New England. Rhode Island’s Latino population has increased in recent years to 16%, or about 148,000 residents.
Her opponents for the race may include Governor Daniel J. McKee, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, and Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz. Munoz has already announced his candidacy and the others are expected to do so.
Puerto Rico native
Nellie Gorbea was born in Puerto Rico and educated at Princeton and Columbia. In her first campaign video she said, “My love affair with Rhode Island started right after I arrived. Like my native Puerto Rico, Rhode Island is a small place where people are close and distances aren’t. The minute I reached out, Rhode Islanders welcomed me.”
Gorbea worked for Puerto Rico Government Development Bank and served as Economic Advisor in the Office of the Governor of Puerto Rico from 1999 to 2000. She was the Rhode Island Foundation’s program officer for economic and community development, founding president of the Rhode Island Latino Civic Fund, and executive director of HousingWorks.
Gorbea told The Americano that her community involvement began in high school in Puerto Rico, where she ran for student council. Then, on leaving college, she thought, “‘My family’s all in Puerto Rico, what am I going to do with my free time?’”
Volunteering was her answer. Her volunteer work brought her into politics, supporting local candidates.
“My parents are both Puerto Ricans. We are a multigenerational army family,” she said. Her background encouraged Gorbea to go into public service.