Puerto Rico Seeks to Move Island's Presidential Primary to March

Michelle Kaske
Puerto Rico Seeks to Move Island's Presidential Primary to March

(Bloomberg) -- Puerto Rico lawmakers are seeking to move-up the island’s Democratic presidential primary to March to inject issues affecting the bankrupt island into the race.

“This bill intends to bring national attention to Puerto Rico, especially in the upcoming Democratic primaries," Governor Ricardo Rossello, who filed the bill to the island’s legislature, said in a statement Tuesday. “Currently, the primary is to be held in June, which reduces the impact we may have. By making Puerto Rico an early voting state, candidates will be forced to pay attention to our needs.”

Puerto Rico residents vote in presidential primaries but not in the general election. The U.S. territory has one non-voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The proposed legislation would move the island’s Democratic presidential primary to the last Sunday in March from the first Sunday in June, according to the statement. Its Republican primary would continue to be held on the last Sunday in February.

Puerto Rico fell into bankruptcy two years ago after a decade of economic decline and years of population loss as residents left the island to seek work on the U.S. mainland. The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, which struck the island in September 2017, and officials have clashed with President Donald Trump over the pace at which federal aid has arrived.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Kaske in New York at mkaske@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Crombie at jcrombie8@bloomberg.net, William Selway, Martin Z. Braun

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