Hoyer endorses Puerto Rico succession plan

Hoyer endorses Puerto Rico succession plan
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse to vote on removing bust of Supreme Court justice who wrote Dred Scott ruling Black Caucus unveils next steps to combat racism Democrats expect Russian bounties to be addressed in defense bill MORE (D-Md.) on Wednesday endorsed the appointment of former Resident Commissioner Pedro PierluisiPedro Rafael PierluisiThere's only one candidate for Democrats in Puerto Rico Trump reignites Puerto Rico feud amid Hurricane Dorian The Hill's Morning Report - Trump vows federal response to Ohio, Texas shootings MORE (D-Puerto Rico) as the territory's secretary of state and likely incoming governor.

Pierluisi was nominated to the post early Wednesday by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló (D), who will step down as governor on Friday at 5 p.m.

“I support the appointment of former Congressman Pedro Pierluisi to be Puerto Rico’s new Secretary of State, and I urge the Puerto Rican House and Senate to approve his nomination quickly," wrote Hoyer in a statement.


Rosselló and his secretary of state, Luis Rivera Marín, were forced out after the leak of a series of group messages involving the two officials that included misogynistic and homophobic references to political opponents, members of the press and Hurricane Maria victims.

The Puerto Rico constitution puts the secretary of state as first in line to replace the governor, but Rosselló has had to pick a replacement who can be ratified by both houses of the island's legislature after the resignation of Rivera.

Pierluisi was among a short list of contenders for the nomination, and politically he is the most similar to Rosselló, despite the fact that the two men faced off in the 2016 gubernatorial primary.

Hoyer's endorsement comes as a boon for Pierluisi, whose first task is to prove to local legislators that his Washington connections could serve the territory to maintain the flow of federal dollars.

"The people of the island deserve leaders they can trust," wrote Hoyer.

"I believe Pedro is someone who has earned their trust through years of service, including as Resident Commissioner. In Congress, he was a strong advocate for the island and the well-being of its people," he added.

Pierluisi's confirmation is by no means a certainty, despite the short timeline to find a successor for Rosselló.

And Hoyer's support might not help get Pierluisi over the top.

Pierluisi's local party, the New Progressive Party (PNP), is divided among members who caucus with Republicans and Democrats at a national level.

Rosselló and Pierluisi are Democrats, while both Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and Speaker of the House Carlos Johnny Méndez are Republicans.

Current Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, another top PNP Republican and Pierluisi's successor in the post, has not yet commented on the nomination.

Still, Hoyer said Pierluisi "has the ability to reach out to all parties and unify Puerto Ricans. He has my strong support."