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Outgoing Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D) on Wednesday named former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D) as his secretary of state designate, putting Pierluisi in line to become Puerto Rico’s next governor.

“After a lot of analysis and taking into account the best interests of our people, I’ve picked Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia to fill the vacant post as secretary of state,” Rosselló said in a statement.

{mosads}“I’ve pondered multiple options to take over that post and the enormous responsibility it holds. The historic moment requires a person that’s capable of restoring relations with all sectors, at the local and national levels.”

Pierluisi must still go through a confirmation process to get the job if he is to succeed Rosselló by 5 p.m. on Friday, when Rosselló is scheduled to leave office.

Rosselló and Pierluisi, both Democrats at a national level, are members of the local New Progressive Party (PNP) at a local level.

Pierluisi served as resident commissioner — Puerto Rico’s sole, nonvoting representative in Congress — for two terms from 2009 to 2017.

He ran for governor in 2016 as the party’s mainstream candidate but lost in a surprise primary to Rosselló, a newcomer with no political experience other than being the son of a former governor.

After the loss, Pierluisi retired from politics to practice law, where one of his top clients has been the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board.

The board’s unpopularity raised some doubts that Rosselló would pick Pierluisi, but the former resident commissioner remains a popular figure both within his party and among the general public.

Rosselló said Pierluisi, who is also a former secretary of justice, will be able to continue the government’s policies while dealing with the corruption scandals that ended Rosselló’s term.

Rosselló resigned after two scandals rocked his administration.

A corruption scandal involving two former administration officials who funneled more than $15 million in government contracts to companies they were connected to, was followed by a texting scandal where the governor’s closest confidants were revealed to use demeaning language to refer to political opponents, journalists and hurricane victims.

The texting scandal caused the resignation of Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marín, breaking the line of succession and forcing Rosselló to appoint someone to finish his term.

“[Pierluisi’s] aspiration is to complete this term, in such a way that the fulfilled achievements don’t fade away and he makes the missing adjustments,” said Rosselló.

But Rosselló stopped short of endorsing Pierluisi for the party’s 2020 gubernatorial nomination.

“The electoral process that will start in the coming months will serve so that other highly qualified leaders put forth their ideas and character at the consideration of the people, as Pierluisi and I did in the past primaries. The electoral competition forced us to speak our differences, but I can assure you we have more similarities. Pierluisi, like me, has Puerto Rico first in his heart,” he said.

To become Rosselló’s successor, Pierluisi will need the acquiescence of the Puerto Rico House and Senate, both led by powerful PNP members with their own political aspirations, including Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, who took over the PNP’s presidency after Rosselló resigned earlier this month.

“I am convinced it is an excellent appointment, that meets the appropriate merits at the time we live. I will thank all the legislators in making a serious evaluation and welcoming this nomination,” wrote Rosselló.

–Updated at 9:51 a.m.

Tags Governor scandal Pedro Pierluisi Puerto Rico Puerto Rico
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