Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio was endorsed by Puerto Rico political leaders in advance of the March 6th Republican primary in the U.S. territory.
Residents of Puerto Rico, although they are U.S. citizens, cannot vote in presidential elections. However, they can vote in the primaries. Puerto Rico sends 23 delegates to the Republican National Convention, and the primary is a “winner take most” contest in which the number of delegates devoted to each candidate depends on the proportion of the vote won by each candidate. With five candidates still in the race for the Republican nomination, the outcome is still a matter of some suspense.
Luis Fortuño, former Puerto Rico governor, has endorsed Marco Rubio. “Marco can be trusted to deliver real results, because he’s an ideas man with a relentless drive to make a difference in the lives of real people. As American citizens, Puerto Ricans deserve better than the failed leadership they’ve gotten during the last eight years, which would continue if the Democrats retained the White House. Marco Rubio is the only candidate in this race who can unite us, win the White House and lead us into a New American Century.”
Jenniffer Gonzalez, Minority Leader of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, has also endorsed Rubio. “With Marco Rubio,” said Gonzalez, “the Republican Party of this New American Century will demonstrate that it recognizes the many Hispanic citizens who share our party’s conservative ideals and who understand the value of work, family, community and church. These citizens seek a leader like Marco who will energize constituencies that in the past have been left behind. Marco speaks to the young, to women, to the unemployed, and those for whom equality is a promise not yet achieved, including the people of Puerto Rico who seek the tools to improve our island economy, create jobs, and achieve full equality as Americans.”
Zoraida Fonalledas, a Republican National Committe member, added, “We need a president like Marco who was raised in a family that understands what it’s like to struggle, persevere and achieve the American Dream, and who understands that dream is only possible if we keep our nation safe and have a vibrant free enterprise economy. Puerto Rico may not have a vote in the Senate, but Marco Rubio has been looking out for us throughout his time there and standing up against the unequal treatment Puerto Ricans face when it comes to many federal policies.”
Jose Carrion, a Republican fundraiser, said, “Marco has all the leadership qualities we need in a president, and is a man who will never forget that he leads a nation that also includes Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million American citizens. ”
Donald Trump is the predicted winner in all 12 of the Super Tuesday primaries coming up this week. However, Nate Cohn has done the math and says that Rubio could lose all 12 and still end up as the Republican candidate. Since some primaries are “winner take all” — the top candidate gets all the delegates, even when, as in some of the races so far, the difference between candidates’ showings are just a few percentage points. By March 15th, the next date on which there will be a number of primaries on one day, the window of opportunity will have closed.
If Puerto Rico is Rubio’s first clear win, it could make a difference for him in his home state of Florida, where a large population of Puerto Rican voters are influenced by politics on the island, according to polls. Cuban voters in Florida may also support Rubio, who is of Cuban heritage, and a strong showing in Puerto Rico might later be seen as the turning point in his campaign.
The Puerto Rico Democratic primary will be held in June.