Statehood Supporters Win Florida Primaries

Primary elections in Florida had been in the news as speculation about the influence of Puerto Rican voters increased in the run-up to the votes. It turns out several of the winners had one thing in common: support for statehood for Puerto Rico.

Florida Governor

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) will face Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in the gubernatorial race. DeSantis, a statehood supporter, easily won his primary. Puerto Rico Lt. Gov. Luis Rivera Marín endorsed his candidacy, describing him as “a supporter of our claim for freedom and equality with responsibility through statehood.”

Gillum has not publicly taken a position on statehood for Puerto Rico, nor did his opponent, former Rep. Gwen Graham (D).

United States Senate

Governor Rick Scott won the Republican primary and will compete against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson in November.

Nelson has said that “Statehood is the answer” for Puerto Rico. He received the support of former Puerto Rico Secretary of State and Senate President Kenneth McClintock the weekend before the primary vote.  Nelson has also been endorsed by Former Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro García Padilla and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who are fellow Democrats. Both are anti-statehood and supporters of the “commonwealth” position.

Scott said that Congress should “respect the will of the people,” referring to last year’s referendum on status, in which 97% of the votes favored statehood. Scott was endorsed by President Trump.

United States House of Representatives

Among a number of House contests, incumbent Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) won her primary. Her opponent, Chardo Richardson, was supported by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Murphy supports statehood for Puerto Rico.

Murphy will run against Mike Miller in November. Both Miller and Richardson, as well as Murphy, spoke up for Puerto Rico statehood at a candidate forum in Orlando.

Incumbent Val Demings also won her primary race. Like Murphy, Demings is the most recent cosponsor of HR 6264, the Puerto Rico Admissions Act of 2018.

Darren Soto (D-FL) surprised observers by resoundingly winning his District 9 race against prior Representative Alan Grayson by a margin of two to one. Soto supports statehood for Puerto Rico. His official statement begins, ““The people of Puerto Rico have spoken. By an overwhelming margin, they have voted to become full partners in our great country. They have voted for statehood. I said I would respect – and fight – for their wishes, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. This is now a matter of civil rights and equality. These Americans serve in our military, pay federal taxes, and meet their obligations as citizens, and Congress should respect their wishes.”

Grayson has also supported statehood for Puerto Rico.  In addition, he once called for a change in the law that would allow residents of Puerto Rico to vote in presidential elections.

Soto will run against Republican Wayne Liebnitzky, who was unopposed in the primary.

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