Charlie Delgado wins PDP primary, party gains thousands of new voters
By The Star Staff
The most significant result in the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) second round of primaries Sunday in which Isabela Mayor Carlos Delgado Altieri became the gubernatorial nominee, was that the PDP garnered 73,000 new voters and the New Progressive Party (NPP) lost half of its primary voters.
“The NPP has lost 200,000 when compared to the primary four years ago, while the PDP got 73,000 more voters,” PDP electoral expert Héctor Luis Acevedo said. “Of course, we did not have a gubernatorial primary four years ago but we did have a primary for resident commissioner. Despite the pandemic and the population loss, the fact that the PDP got 73,000 more voters and the NPP lost half of its voters, is a radical change.”
In 2016, the NPP had 478,000 voters in the primary while the PDP had about 160,000 voters. In Acevedo’s opinion, the change in the number of voters in the 2020 primary means the November election will be a close one that will rely largely on the militancy of the voters.
“I think the PDP is ahead, but there is parity in the base membership,” he said.
Delgado Altieri defeated Senate Minority Leader Eduardo Bhatia and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto comfortably to obtain the PDP’s gubernatorial nomination Sunday.
From the start, the numbers showed Delgado Altieri ahead of Bhatia by twice the number of votes and ahead of Cruz Soto by at least four times her number of votes.
Delgado Altieri arrived at his campaign meeting in the Hyatt Place at 7:36 p.m. flanked by Héctor Ferrer Jr., who obtained one of the six at-large House seats, and Caguas Mayor William Miranda Torres. Delgado Altieri thanked his late wife and Héctor Ferrer Sr., who is also deceased.
“We will work hard. I won’t fail you,” he said. “Today PDP unity has won. No PDP candidate has defeated another. The primary is now behind us. Today, we look toward the future firmly.”
Delgado Altieri said he was taking over the PDP with the responsibility of knowing that the party brought economic advancement to Puerto Rico.
“We are now going through the second transformation of Puerto Rico and all of the PDP are needed for that and to defeat the NPP leadership that has hurt Puerto Rico so much,” he said.
He said the PDP will offer voters an honest government that will restore the people’s trust and called for the party to evolve.
Earlier, at 6:10 p.m. with 32 percent of the votes in, Bhatia conceded that he had lost the primary but urged his supporters to continue to count the votes.
“I want to thank the people of Puerto Rico who have been with me for 25 years,” he said.
He also thanked Cruz Soto for putting her foot forward and running for San Juan mayor in 2012 when everyone thought she would not make it.
“To Isabela Mayor Charlie Delgado, who is now the PDP gubernatorial candidate, I wish for him the force and we will all join forces to clean up the country, clean it up from the corruption left by the NPP, which has not rebuilt a single home since the hurricane,” Bhatia said, adding that now he and his wife will have more time to spend together.
Some 30 minutes later, Cruz Soto issued a video acknowledging her defeat from Comerío.
“My intention all this time was to give the PDP a real option of change; an option that could mean another party,” she said as a car with loud reggaetón music could be heard in the background. “It is now up to the ones who won, to bring the PDP to victory. I still believe in the power of the communities, in governing with alliances and that Puerto Rico is still a colony but it does not have to be. … Another Puerto Rico is possible.”
With 795 of the 2,133 electoral units counted, Delgado Altieri had received 63.7 percent of the votes, Bhatia 22.8 percent and Cruz Soto 13.3 percent.
Earlier in the day, PDP Sen. Aníbal José Torres, who turned over the party presidency Sunday to Delgado Altieri, thanked party supporters for the vote and urged party unity behind the winner.
“This is not about candidacies but about the institution,” he said.
Torres chided the “powered drunken” individuals in the NPP for hurting the primary process, which could not be held as a single event on Aug. 9 because of a lack of ballots at voting places.
Sunday’s primary voting, which was dubbed locally as the secondary primary, ran smoothly, according to voters interviewed by the STAR. Salvador López, a retired veteran, said he encountered problems because officials thought he was trying to jump the line. As a physically disabled individual, he said he could not wait in line to vote for the NPP while standing up at the Francisco Matias Lugo School in Carolina.
Even though Carolina has a PDP mayor, most residents prefer the gubernatorial candidates of the NPP. The voting lines of the NPP were longer than those of the PDP.
At the Jesús María Sanroma School in Carolina, Roberto Hernández said it only took him five minutes to vote for NPP gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi.
PDP Sen. Cirilo Tirado, who is Delgado Altieri’s campaign head, said the primary did have problems. In the central mountain town of Aibonito, the electoral packages of the PDP did not have the alpha lists, which indicate the voting unit of the voter. The situation forced PDP voters to go to the NPP primary to confirm if they were on the list. The PDP packages did not have the thermometers used to monitor the temperature of voters to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Tirado said the other problem occurred in the Unit 16 in San Juan, the only one in the capital city that operated Sunday as the others completed the vote on Aug. 9, because voters from other units tried to vote there.