Republican primary voters in Florida’s Seventh Congressional District have chosen Dr. Leo Valentín to take on incumbent Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) in the general election on November 3.
Valentín’s victory sets up a choice between two candidates that have come out strongly in favor of Puerto Rico statehood. They will be joined on the ballot by independent William “Bill” Garlington, who identifies as a conservative.
Although Congresswoman Murphy and Dr. Valentin agree on Puerto Rican statehood, they differ most notably on matters related to gun control and support of President Trump.
Valentín secured the Republican nomination by fewer than 600 votes, with 38.6% of the vote, against Richard Goble. Yukong Zhao came in third with 24% of votes cast.
Valentín’s campaign page emphasizes that he believes “the Trump administration is creating a strong Florida and America.” He says that he “supports our President.”
Valentín’s platform also highlights his support for “guns rights of the people of Florida,” and term limits.
Valentín, a native of Puerto Rico, is a strong advocate for statehood. He has explained, “[h]aving been involved with a hospital and the health care system on the island, I understand how becoming a state would help the island’s infrastructure, businesses, health care, and emergency preparedness.”
Incumbent Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) has spoken in favor of statehood in the local Puerto Rican community and on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Her position is consistent with that of the Florida Democrat Party
In response to the recent report that President Trump had been interested in selling Puerto Rico for Greenland, Murphy tweeted, “I condemn the President’s ignorant and disrespectful comments toward Puerto Ricans, who have made countless contributions to our country in times of war and peace. As long as I’m in Congress, I will continue to fight for fair and dignified treatment for the island… Our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico deserve true equality. That’s why I support statehood, which would give the Puerto Rican people voting rights, guarantee their equal treatment under all federal laws, and improve quality of life on the island.”
Murphy was born Đặng Thị Ngọc Dung in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and came with her family to Florida when she was six months old. She ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Garlington was born in Georgia, and has made no statements on Puerto Rico statehood.
He describes himself as a conservative and advocates for limited federal government, the right to life, school prayer and low taxes.
His video message to Hispanic voters is silent on the issue of Puerto Rico statehood.