Although running for governor wasn’t in her plans in early 2019, Resident Commissioner in Washington Jenniffer González confessed yesterday that it was not easy to rule out an aspiration supported by the New Progressive Party (PNP) leadership. However, she decided she would work better in Washington and announced yesterday that she will seek reelection as Resident Commissioner.
"It wasn’t an easy decision. I have been meeting with my leadership and they asked me to run for governor. And there are mayors and legislators who asked me to run for governor,” González said.
It was to that group – politically speaking – that she first announced that she would seek reelection, thus ruling out running for governor. In an interview with El Nuevo Día yesterday, she said she had not discussed her aspirations with former Resident Commissioner and PNP candidate for governor, Pedro Pierluisi.
“One has to evaluate everything, see what the priorities are for the people as a public servant. My personal ambition cannot be my main goal. It was a difficult and decisive process,” Resident Commissioner González added.
"At a time of uncertainty, with the summer crisis, leaving Washington could cause more problems for the island and put the federal funds at greater risk," she said.
The idea of running for governor came at the end of July after Governor Ricardo Roselló’s resignation – who in March announced that he would seek reelection – amid a scandal over a leaked a chat between Rosselló and his top aides exchanging profanity-laced, homophobic and misogynistic messages about fellow politicians, journalists, celebrities and other members of society.
After Rosselló resigned, González was ready to become Secretary of State to later assume the governorship. However, to do this, Wanda Vázquez – who stepped up as governor according to the line of succession provided in the Constitution– had to step aside.
“It´s Congress that takes important decisions for the island. Congress has become the source of federal funds and legislation and that’s what I’ve been doing. Yes, I did have calls (to run for governor), I felt it on the streets, but there are times when great struggles occur where they need us most, in my case, my decision is a determination by conviction and not ambition,” she stressed.
González made the announcement through a video she posted yesterday on her social media. In the nearly three-minute message, she said her decision to stay in Washington focuses on achieving the release of Congress approved funds for the island’s reconstruction that have been stopped due to Puerto Rico´s image of “instability” in Washington.
“My decision is a determination by conviction and not ambition. That's why I want to continue serving you as your Resident Commissioner in Washington,” González said.
In the message, González described what she believes have been her greatest achievements since winning the Resident Commissioner seat in the 2016 elections. Among those, she mentioned the approval of legislation that secured, for a defined period, the funds necessary to keep the government’s health plan and services for veterans operating.
“I’m convinced we cannot risk what we have accomplished with so much work. Puerto Rico cannot start from scratch and throw away all the work we have already started. There is still much to do and my agenda is still long. I know how to do it. People in Washington respect me,” she said in the video, where she also highlighted the $ 42 billion allocation for the reconstruction process.
Support for González aspirations
After the announcement, her party´s leadership was swift to support her aspirations.
One of the first politicians to react and share the message was Pierluisi, with whom González met on Friday. The Commissioner assured, however, that during that meeting they didn’t discuss the issue. “I met with him to talk about statehood. We didn’t talk about candidacies,” she said.
“Don´t change good things. Our Resident Commissioner continues her commitment to Puerto Rico and equality by announcing that she will continue the fight in Washington,” Pierluisi wrote in his Facebook account.
After Pierluisi announced that he would run for governor a few weeks ago, González met with him and told him she needed time to evaluate what the official determination would be.
"I’m focused on what I have to keep doing in the federal capital," she explained.
On whether or not she supports Pierluisi's aspirations for governor, González answered that she will support whoever the PNP candidate would be.
“I’m a team player, I’ve shown it in the past. Any candidate will have my support, help, and collaboration,” said the Resident Commissioner.
So far, only Pierluisi and Iván González Cancel, a cardiovascular surgeon, have confirmed that they will run for governor. Figures of the party also bet on PNP President Thomas Rivera Schatz candidacy but he has not made any announcement on the matter.
Although Pierluisi and Rivera Schatz had clashes amid the processes following Governor Rosselló’s resignation, after Pierluisi’s announcement, the Senate President defended his aspirations and described him as "a good person."
Yesterday, House President Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, mayor of Bayamón Ramón Luis Rivera Cruz, and Rivera Schatz also supported González’s aspirations.
“Having her there guarantees the continuity of the funds because she has worked very well and has achieved what, from my perspective, no other Commissioner has achieved before, she has created a communication relationship and even friendship with members of Congress,” the mayor said.
Meanwhile, for the Popular Democratic Party PDP) Senator José Nadal Power and attorney Juan Carlos Albors have confirmed their aspirations to run for the position in Washington.
Would you run against any of the possible candidates?
— There are candidates who, instead of bringing ideas, bring small politics. I’m not going to pay attention to cheap attacks. Puerto Rico expects more from us. My achievements for Puerto Rico speak for themselves. All my legislation is bipartisan, so it’s natural that during a campaign process, people say things that aren’t true.