Friday, May 22, 2020

Puerto Rico Democratic Presidential Primary Now Set for July 12

The Puerto Rico Democratic Party announced on Thursday, May 21 that, in consultation with the Elections Commission in the US territory, it is scheduling its presidential primary election for Sunday, July 12.

Party president Charlie Rodriguez indicated that since Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (D) was still fighting for delegates to the national convention, the territorial party was stuck under current Puerto Rico law with the primary election as the means through which delegates would be allocated. Additionally, he cited the recent federal court decisions in New York reinstating the presidential primary there. Both New York and Puerto Rico directly elect district delegates on the primary ballot. As a result, not only would presidential candidates potentially be adversely affected by any cancelation of the primary, but so too would qualifying delegate candidates also on the ballot. And although that may have been the party preference -- to cancel the primary and allocate delegates in a different manner -- it was a bridge too far given a likely court challenge to such a move.

This move had been telegraphed to some extent. As a coda to a series of waiver grants, it was revealed last week during a virtual meeting of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (DNCRBC) that Puerto Rico Democrats were considering either July 5 or 12 as the date of their primary. The party obviously chose the latter. And that date -- either date, really -- falls after the June 9 date set aside in DNC rules as the final date on which states can conduct primaries or caucuses. As was noted then during the meeting, Puerto Rico Democrats will have to take the final decision and any other changes to their delegate selection plan before the DNCRBC for the committee's approval.

Like a number of other states, Puerto Rico also played a game of primary calendar musical chairs. The Democratic presidential primary was originally set in 2019 for the final Sunday in March, March 29. But once 2020 rolled around and the coronavirus intervened, the territorial government shifted the primary back a month to April 26. However, that new law also included a contingency plan. If the pandemic and its attendant issues stretched to and beyond that late April date, then the Puerto Rico Democratic Party along with the Elections Commission could choose an alternate date. That led to an indefinitely postponement of the election in early April and set the table for the decision on Thursday for the mid-July date.

Puerto Rico now slots into a space on the primary calendar ahead of only Connecticut's in August. It becomes a seventh contest that will fall after the June 9 deadline.

The press release from the Puerto Rico Democratic Party on the primary rescheduling will be archived here.

The Puerto Rico Democratic presidential primary has been added back to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related Posts:
4/3/20: Puerto Rico Democrats Indefinitely Postpone Presidential Primary

3/25/20: Governor Vazquez's Signature Pushes Puerto Rico Democratic Presidential Primary Back a Month

3/19/20: Puerto Rico Legislation Would Shift Presidential Primary Back to April or Beyond

3/16/20: Puerto Rico Democrats Signal Presidential Primary Date Change

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