Washington — Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló is spearheading an effort to move up the date of the island’s 2020 Democratic primary to highlight the pressing issues facing the U.S. territory, which some progressives worry are being neglected on the campaign trail.
The measure, which is expected to pass the island’s legislature in the coming weeks, would move the primary from the first Sunday in June to the last Sunday in March. Rosselló said the change would incentivize the two-dozen Democrats running for president to actively address proposals to remedy some of the island’s woes, including stalled hurricane recovery efforts and a prolonged fiscal crisis.
“You have a platform there in Puerto Rico to really zero in. It can be kind of the ground zero of the discussions of some of the issues that are important for the Democratic candidates,” the governor told CBS News during an exclusive interview in Washington. “And I hope — and I expect — others to come to the island.”
If the measure passes as expected, Rosselló said Democratic presidential campaigns will make more an effort to win over the state’s delegates. In 2016, Puerto Rico had 67 Democratic delegates in play, more than than over two dozen states and territories.
The governor is also pushing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to hold a presidential debate in Puerto Rico and said a formal request will be forthcoming.
In this June 18, 2018 photo shows an aerial photo of the Viequez neighborhood, east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Thousands of people across Puerto Rico are still living in damaged homes, protected by blue plastic tarps, nine months since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Dennis M. Rivera / AP
Rosselló said Puerto Rico — home to approximately 3.2 million U.S. citizens — can serve as a microcosm of issues that affect the entire nation but that are particularly pronounced on the island. “These issues that are important to all of the candidates that resonate in