Puerto Rico primary brings political change, but Oversight Board remains


A surprise primary result means Puerto Rico will have a new governor next year.

Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón upset Gov. Pedro Pierluisi in the race for the New Progressive Party nomination for governor. The New Progressive Party supports statehood for Puerto Rico.

As resident commissioner González Colón represents, without being able to vote on the House floor, Puerto Rico’s interests in the U.S. House of Representatives.

A surprise primary win makes Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in Congress, Jenniffer González, a favorite to be the territory’s next governor.

Given the continued power of the Oversight Board, created in the federal Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act of 2016, over the territory’s budget, little will change on the island regardless of the November elections for governor and legislature, said Puerto Rico attorney and commentator John Mudd.

Polls had shown Pierluisi ahead of González Colón. With about 80% of the vote counted she was ahead 56% to 44% and Pierluisi conceded the race.

“This employee of mine, a janitor, told me a few days ago, ‘I was without electricity all day yesterday; I’m voting for Jenniffer,'” said Vicente Feliciano, president of Puerto Rico-based Advantage Business Consulting. “Affluent social groups are insulated from Puerto Rico’s electricity travails because, as soon as the electricity goes off, a generator kicks in. Others, such as this janitor, have a hard time with the lack of power plus have no money to repair appliances damaged by the constant variations in voltage.”

González Colón beat Pierluisi because of his handling of electrical transmission and distribution company LUMA Energy, the Law 80 employee layoff, severance, and retirement issue and “general government mismanagement,” said Mudd.

The bankruptcy of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority remains unresolved after almost seven years, though the commonwealth government’s Title III bankruptcy proceeding was concluded in 2022.

The NPP candidates received 86% more votes than the two Popular Democratic Party candidates for governorship.

Jesús Manuel Ortiz, a member of the territory’s House of Representatives, won the PDP nomination.

Feliciano said it was possible 2024 could be the start of an extended period of dominance for the NPP in Puerto Rico politics. The PDP advocates for a continuation of the island’s current “commonwealth” status, which other parties describe as a “territorial” status.

The Puerto Rico Independence Party and the Citizen’s Victory Movement party have joined together to support a single gubernatorial candidate, Javier Córdova. The Citizen’s Victory Movement is a leftist party and the Independence Party wants Puerto Rico to secede from the United States.