We often hear, “Republicans will never allow Puerto Rico to become a state!” from Democrats. We also hear, “We don’t want seven more Democrats in Congress!” from Republicans. We understand that the division between the two major political parties is strong, so we see where this is coming from.
Fortunately, Puerto Rico’s delegation includes both Democrats and Republicans — plus one independent delegate. Puerto Rico formally requested statehood in 2018, and sent a delegation to Congress. This is known as the Tennessee Plan. Many territories have become states in this way.
And the delegation should have quieted the fears of Republicans. There are three Republicans in the commission: former Governor and Resident Commissioner, Luis G. Fortuño; GOP National Committeewoman Zoraida Fonalledas; and Former Chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship Alfonso Aguilar. Puerto Rico is not sending seven Democrats to Congress.
Democrats should also stop worrying. The balanced slate from Puerto Rico includes three Democrats: former Governor and Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barceló; former Governor and Senator Pedro Rosselló González; and former Senator and Chairman of the Democratic National Committee for Puerto Rico Charles Rodríguez.
Independent Iván ‘Pudge’ Rodríguez completes the group.
Statehood is a bipartisan issue
Statehood supporters include Republicans like the current Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, and Democrats like the former Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi.
Or consider rivals Rick Scott and Bill Nelson, both of whom are running for U.S. Senator in Florida. Both support statehood for Puerto Rico. Statehood has many supporters in Congress, on both sides of the aisle.
History has shown that it is not possible to predict whether a territory will be a red state or a blue state. Hawaii, for example, was expected to be a red state, but is solidly blue. Alaska was expected to be a blue state. It’s red.
Puerto Rico’s delegation proves that the territory plans to start with a level playing field. Each party can then share their party’s message with the voters of the new state of Puerto Rico.
This will bring much-needed attention to the infrastructure and requirements of Puerto Rico.
Quality of the delegation
The current Puerto Rico delegation includes not only individuals who have spent their lives in public service to the Island, but people from the highest levels of leadership. Former governors and resident commissioners have a level of understanding and experience that will help provide the strong leadership a new state needs.
In the past, territories which have used the Tennessee Plan have not always gotten immediate support from Congress. It may take time for the delegation from Puerto Rico to be seated,and time for Puerto Rico to become a state. But this change is on the horizon. Be on the right side of history. Support Puerto Rico’s delegation.