Governor Rossello (PNP-D) Announces Resignation

By Edgar Velasco

On July 24, Governor Ricardo Rossello (PNP-D) announced his resignation from office, effective August 2. 

After 12 days of public outrage and mounting requests for his resignation triggered by a leaked, profanely insolent phone-app chat and the arrest of six current and former administration officials on corruption charges, the Governor changed his mind on whether to stay in office and informed the island of his decision through a live stream on his administration's Facebook page. 

Rossello's (PNP-D) resignation and the course of events leading up to it have been highly unprecedented in Puerto Rico politics, specifically since the Governor appeared to be politically invincible in the next elections as recent as a month ago. Rossello's (PNP-D) administration achieved two balanced budgets approved by the Fiscal Oversight Board, implement much of the austerity measures recommended by the Board, increase government revenues, increase the amount of public-private-partnerships to take over Government services and coordinate historic relief efforts for the island after Hurricane Maria. 

Currently, the Governor has not nominated a new Lieutenant Governor, which makes the Attorney General, Wanda Vazquez (PNP) as the next in line for the Governor's office if a new Lieutenant Governor is not confirmed before August 2. Much will be determined during the next couple of weeks as political leadership has signaled their intention to have Vazquez (PNP) be only a momentary placeholder until the Legislature confirms a new Lieutenant Governor. Vazquez (PNP) has had public feuds with Senate President Rivera-Schatz (R) in the past over an allegation that Vazquez improperly interfered in a case regarding a robbery against her daughter. Another possible case-scenario is that the Legislature might confirm a new Lieutenant Governor in the next week, making this person the acting Governor effective August 2. Pro-statehood PNP leadership wants the acting Governor to be someone without political aspirations for 2020, clearing the way to what appears to be a possible primary between Senate President Rivera-Schatz (PNP-R) and Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez (PNP-R). 

Political leadership on the island will be looking to achieve a consensus on who should be nominated and confirmed as Lieutenant Governor, for this person to become the new acting Governor until 2020.