Puerto Rico: Fortuño Wins Primary in Island Race for Governor

Posted March 10, 2008 at 6:46pm

Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño (R) is set to run against Puerto Rico’s incumbent governor this November after comfortably winning his party’s primary on Sunday.

The win sets up a competitive contest between Fortuño, who wants Puerto Rico to become a state, and Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá (D), a former resident commissioner who has pushed to keep the island a commonwealth. Fortuño is a member of the New Progressive Party, while Acevedo belongs to the Popular Democratic Party.

Fortuño won with almost 60 percent of the primary vote, beating his party’s president, former Gov. Pedro Rosselló, according to preliminary results. Rosselló is well-known on the island — he served two terms as governor before leaving office in 2001 and has consistently railed against what he calls Puerto Rico’s “colonial” status.

The race between Fortuño and Acevedo promises to focus on the status issue, a fight that the two already have brought to Congress. Fortuño is co-sponsoring a bill in the House that would require a referendum, while Acevedo supports one that calls for a convention.

But Acevedo’s legal problems will complicate the race. Local news sources have reported that a federal grand jury is investigating allegations of illegal campaign contributions in 2000. If Acevedo is indicted, he might have to drop out of the race.

Pedro Pierluisi, a former secretary of justice under Rosselló, won the New Progressive Party’s nomination for resident commissioner.
— Emily Yehle