Puerto Rico in US National Politics

Puerto Rico admits Hurricane Maria's death toll may be 1,427

The Story:

In four hours over two nights last week, twenty Democratic candidates for President and five moderators discussed a wide range of issues facing the US, foreign and domestic. They hardly mentioned Puerto Rico at all. And this week, that omission has received a fair amount of attention.

Background:

There are a lot of Puerto Rico related topics to which the candidates might have spoken. For example: the Commonwealth faces a huge debt crisis and a consequent need for financial restructuring. The island’s power grid needs a lot of rebuilding, and this might well provide a test case of both political parties’ professed commitment to infrastructure as an issue. And the island is regularly in the path of hurricanes, so it is an inkblot in which a candidate can see his/her own ideas about climate change.

The Thing to Know:

Although Puerto Rico is not a state and does not cast electoral votes in Presidential elections, that would a short-sighted rationale for ignoring its concerns. After all, transplanted Puerto Ricans are a significant voting bloc in several states, most of all in the paradigm of swing states, Florida.

 

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