House and Senate primary race full of surprises: New faces in, some known ones out
By Elsa Velazquez Santiago
Special to The Star
Not everyone made the cut for the general election ballot for the Puerto Rico Legislature. Sunday’s primary left some of the most well known faces out, while some fresh faces remain in the race.
At press time, for senators-at-large for the New Progressive Party (NPP), running in first place was current senator and former government official in the Ricardo Rosselló Nevares administration, William Villafañe. He was followed by Sen. Gregorio Matías, vice president of the Police Association. Both filled Senate vacancies after Larry Seilhamer and Abel Nazario resigned. Nazario quit after a scandal. They were followed by Keren Riquelme, who was surrounded by controversy after a rumor spread on social media involving a doctoral degree she claims to hold. Another senator whose candidacy appeared “saved” Sunday was Itzamar Peña, followed by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz. Carlos Rodríguez Mateo and another new candidate, Alba Iris Cestero, prevailed too. At press time, in the final spots, and left out, were senators Héctor Martínez and Evelyn Vázquez Nieves. Martínez had served time for bribery in a federal prison.
For the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Senate, the following made the general election ballot: Sen. José Luis Dalmau Santiago, party president Sen. Anibal José Torres, Rep. Brenda López de Arrarás, Rep. Luis Vega Ramos, former gubernatorial hopeful and ex-Treasury secretary Juan Zaragoza, and professor Ada Álvarez Conde. At press time, former Rep. Sonia Pacheco, former lawmaker Marco Rigau, former Sen. Ramón Luis Nieves and three new faces, Ruth Currás Paniagua, Samuel González and Pedro J. Norat, didn’t make the cut.
For representative-at-large, NPP vice president and Rep. José “Pichy” Torres Zamora was comfortably first place. He was followed by Rep. José Enrique Meléndez, former House Speaker Rep. José Aponte, Rep. Lourdes Ramos and Rep. Nelson Cruz. New candidate Jorge Emanuel Báez also made the cut. For her part, Rep. María Milagros Charbonier, who is part of an investigation by federal authorities, was left out with 6.95 percent of the vote at press time.
On the PDP side for representative-at-large, Héctor Ferrer Jr. made his debut in first place, earning a solid spot for his general election candidacy. He was followed by Rep. Jesús Manuel Ortiz. Another two new faces got in as well: Keyliz Méndez and Yaramary Torres. Gabriel López Arrieta, a former administrator of Public Housing, and Enid Monge, former president of United Retailers Association also made the cut.
For district senator in the NPP, Sen. Henry Newman made the San Juan ballot, as did Sen. Carmelo Ríos. For district representative, lawmaker Antonio Soto earned a solid spot for his general election candidacy.
On the PDP side for district senator, some new names are on the ballot. For example, for San Juan, Jesús Manuel Laboy and for Humacao, Rosamar Trujillo Plumey. Among the new names for district representative: Manuel Calderón Cerrame (District 4), Rosario Ortiz (District 1) and José “Oepe” Ortiz (District 3). Current Rep. Jesús Santa Rodríguez (District 31) also made the cut.
The State Elections Commission has all the final names and numbers at ceepur.org.