Ron DeSantis won’t push for Puerto Rico statehood

DeSantis LeMans Iowa
'I would never do anything to give Democrats any additional Senate seats.'

Ron DeSantis doesn’t want Puerto Rico to become a state unless there’s a GOP-dominated state to be entered into the United States at the same time to offset its Democratic lean.

In West Des Moines on Sunday, the 2024 presidential candidate responded to a questioner who asked whether or not the Commonwealth should get statehood, saying he was worried it would upset the political balance

“I would never do anything to give Democrats any additional Senate seats. So, whatever it would be, it would have to be Republican seats or a Republican state to match the Democrat state. I understand how closely divided the country is and I’m not going to upset that,” DeSantis said, presumably assuming that the current two-party system will hold indefinitely, along with the domination of parties in given states.

DeSantis has taken arguably friendlier positions toward Puerto Rico in the past, which was recognized by a key legislative supporter as he pushed for a mechanism that would have helped Puerto Rico attain the statehood DeSantis now seeks to extend conditionally.

As a candidate for Governor in 2018, DeSantis’ allies enlisted Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón for an ad extolling the then-Congressman’s stalwart support of the island.

“He looks out for our community. I know this first hand. Because in Congress, he has been one of our best allies. Giving support and efforts for our recovery. DeSantis is approved; I know him. We have worked together for Puerto Rico. That’s why today, I am asking you to vote Ron DeSantis for Governor,” the Congresswoman said.

In Congress in 2018, DeSantis offered Puerto Ricans a pathway to statehood, as he co-sponsored the Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2018The bill contemplated “final admission into the Union as a State no later than Jan. 1, 2021.” His political operation told Factcheck.org the measure didn’t “take a position” on statehood but merely “clarified the process by which statehood would be granted to ensure it was subject to the will of the American people and a full congressional vote.”

Whatever the case, the bill did not contemplate another conditional admission to offset Puerto Rico’s legislative impact if made a state.

DeSantis has been indifferent to the perceived lack of electoral impact and self-determination among American territories before during his campaign.

In front of Virgin Islands Republicans, DeSantis made light of the territory’s current inability to vote in presidential elections by joking about them being potentially too Democratic for GOP electoral hopes.

“How would the Virgin Islands vote for President — would they be red or blue?” DeSantis asked, as reported by the local St. Thomas Source. “I don’t want to pony up free electoral votes for the other team.”

Independent Sen. Alma Francis-Heyliger asked the Republican presidential candidate about not being able to vote in the Presidential General Election, describing the disenfranchisement as being “almost like you’re in a different class of citizen, even though we are citizens of America.”

Told by the Senator that three of the five territories are Republican, DeSantis then offered an answer, essentially telling the group on the call not to get their hopes up.

“Obviously I think that we have these territories, people are Americans, and they should be treated as equal citizens. How that works with the Electoral College, I’m not sure that there’s going to be necessarily a movement on that front, but I do think just generally speaking, the more equal the better,” DeSantis said, dodging the question.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


26 comments

  • SteveHC

    December 10, 2023 at 3:58 pm

    Obviously, by his own statements he only values Republican citizens and consequently would make for one of the worst US Presidents in tbe country’s history as he plans on basing his actions as President on the whims of only half the country at most.

    • Arthur Malaret

      December 10, 2023 at 7:58 pm

      I don’t see anything different from the Democrats. Every four years the democrats candidates go to Puerto Rico to get money for their political campaigns and make all kinds of promises and once they get on the plane they don’t remember what they were doing there. The Democrat party is the most hypocrite party in the United States and the most antimoral and Christian party.

  • Impeach Biden

    December 10, 2023 at 4:36 pm

    Why do we want Puerto Rico as a state? . I’ve been going down there for over thirty years and the subject of statehood would come up periodically on the San Juan Star newspaper. Years ago the population there did not want statehood. The people there wanted to preserve their language and culture. They also had tech and pharmaceutical companies there because of preferential tax benefits to the companies. Well those tax benefits are gone now and the companies left. Puerto Rico is broke now and the idea of statehood is now appealing as they need a financial bailout. Governor DeSantis is right on this. No thanks.

    • TJC

      December 10, 2023 at 5:17 pm

      They are American citizens, IB. If we’re going to decide which Americans get statehood based on their economies, we should have another look at Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi and Alabama, each of which receive far more federal aid (tax payers’ money) than they generate. But they’re Americans, and that’s all that matters. If Puerto Ricans want statehood, they can make their voices heard, but it would have to be a huge majority for it to be taken seriously, and I don’t think they have it. A 2020 referendum had a 52% for and 47% against result, so plenty of Puerto Ricans are fine with the way things are. And hey, since you go down there so often, what is it you do like about it? Just curious. I’ve always wanted to go but haven’t had the right opportunity so far.

      • Impeach Biden

        December 10, 2023 at 5:28 pm

        Purely business my friend. Would not be at the top of a vacation destination for me to visit.

        • Arthur Malaret

          December 10, 2023 at 7:19 pm

          If instead of treating the Puertoricans like we don’t deserve anything and stop being so prejudice, more Puertoricans may Republicans because of right now the US Citizens of Puerto Rico what they feel is that the United States does not want them. Make laws to benefit any other migrans that once they bacome Citizens go for the Democrats, harvesting Democrats voters. And remember we didn’t ask for this Status, we were invaded by the United States in the Hispanic war. Educate yourself before posting.

      • Arthur Malaret

        December 10, 2023 at 8:04 pm

        52% is a majority if it was a 50/50 you would have a point but thats a 52% not counting thle thousands that have move to the United States in the past years that cannot vote on the referendums.

        • TJC

          December 11, 2023 at 12:06 pm

          Yes, I agree on those stats, but I still feel it would be taken more seriously by the government and by all other Americans if the Americans of Puerto Rico had a very convincing majority that wanted statehood — like 70%. I’m not saying that’s fair, I’m just saying it would garner more support outside of Puerto Rico. Right now, polls and referendums never being perfect, 52% is not enough to make the case for a strong majority.
          Personally, I’m all for Puerto Rico becoming the 51st state, and always have been, but the Republican Party won’t have it. You mentioned that there’s more corruption in D.C. “Specially when the Democrats are in power.” Sounds like you are a Republican. If you are, it’s your party that’s afraid Puerto Rico would be a Democrat stronghold, and that’s why they won’t allow statehood.
          As such, I don’t think it is a matter of prejudice so much as it is a matter of fear. No doubt Democrats would have the same fear if they thought Puerto Rico would be solid Republican. In reality, with time, either side might be quite surprised to find that Puerto Ricans are going to make up their own minds from one election to the next, and won’t be beholden to either party. They’ll do what’s best for Puerto Rico and the rest of the country.

          • Arthur Malaret

            December 15, 2023 at 12:21 am

            I have been a Republican since my first vote for Ronald Wilson Reagan one of The Greatest President of the United States . I served on the US Army under both of his administration. Those Puertoricans that make that 52% in the referendums that want statehood the great majority are conservative people that got the same values and views of the Republican party. The people from Puerto Rico just feel not wanted by the United States. They need to be educated in what consists on becoming a state of The United States of America. A lot of people are being mislead by the few that want an Independent Country and they come to Washington DC and offer money to the Democrat elected officials and some Republicans for them to not back up the results of the plebiscite. It has happened election through election. At least we know what’s the thinking of the Republicans they are straightforward but the Democrats whant you to believe on them and backstabb you. Be straightforward with the people of Puerto Rico.

    • Arthur Malaret

      December 10, 2023 at 6:56 pm

      So if Puerto Rico is so bad what have you being going there for so many years, unless you’re trafficking. I’m Puertorican and my family and lots of my Puertoricans friends are Republicans by the way we live in Florida and voted and vote for DeSantis. Puerto Rico should be able to become the 51st State of the Union. Only prejudice bastards like you don’t appreciate that we Puertoricans serve in US Arm Forces and give our lives for this Contry. There’s many of Americans that don’t serve the nation they don’t care. Are you one of those? By the way I served for 25 years in the US Army.

      • Impeach Biden

        December 10, 2023 at 7:02 pm

        Here we go again. Yes I served for seven years in the USAF. You call me prejudice for stating a fact. You don’t like that fact so you pull a card. Now tell all of us about the corruption down there starting with the power company.

        • Arthur Malaret

          December 10, 2023 at 7:44 pm

          I’m not pulling any card, I’m not letting no one trash my people. What you saying about the corruption is very true. That can be blamed on the US Government witch should be supervising the Government of Puerto Rico since it has the complete control of the island and decides on everything. I have always say that Washington should assingne an American Governor and make him responsible to administrate the island. Now you pulled the corruption card and I give it to you, but how many are there in Washington DC. Specially when the Democrats are in power. That means that they should be expelled out of the nation and become a colony. I’ll give my life for this great country no doubt but give us what we have earn.

  • tom palmer

    December 10, 2023 at 6:19 pm

    Shocker. He never carries Orange and Osceola counties anyway.

  • Nick Thomas

    December 10, 2023 at 8:44 pm

    Puerto Rico needs to revert back to English as their first language. It is very, very difficult as a stateside American living, working or visiting Puerto Rico once you get off the well-beaten-path populated by tourists. Among a host of issues including corruption and bloated government, the complete lack of English fluency since the 1960s has really held Puerto Rico back. Puerto Rico should be its own country and position itself as the Singapore of the Caribbean.

    • Lisette Otero - Lewis

      December 11, 2023 at 8:14 am

      English was never Puerto Rico’s first language due to its 400 years of colonization by Spain. As a result, Spanish became the island’s primary language. The notion that language is the reason for Puerto Rico’s struggles is unfounded and reflects a lack of education and understanding about the island. These assumptions are based on the omission of Puerto Rico’s history in US education. This hypocrisy exists within both political parties, using Puerto Rico as a pawn for political gain. Despite being unwilling participants, the Puerto Rican people have faithfully served the United States, while companies have exploited and depleted the island’s resources. Puerto Rico contributes more to the United States than it receives. Many opinions on this platform lack factual knowledge and are driven by bigotry and prejudice.

    • Dont Say FLA

      December 11, 2023 at 5:59 pm

      Puerto Rico sounds exactly like the state whose name shall not be uttered.

  • Lex

    December 11, 2023 at 8:57 am

    National political impacts have always been an enormous part of any state being added to the Union. This is not a unique time.

    • rick whitaker

      December 11, 2023 at 1:35 pm

      lex, florida was obtained in lieu of a $5 million dollar lawsuit owed by spain in 1845. in today’s money that would be $111 million. nobody objected because it was a good deal. in the case you’re referring to, it is a desantis statement meant to be purely political and therefore, self serving as is most of what desantis says and does. to compare desantis to anything else in history is wrong. desantis is in a sinking boat of his own making.

  • R. Soto

    December 11, 2023 at 12:57 pm

    Regardless of ones politics, it’s simply not possible in this day and age to justify the keeping of any territory by the United States. It is immoral and directly contradicts the position of this country as a champion for freedom and democracy around the world.
    Put partisan politics aside for one moment and realize the inhabitants of territories do not have political free will, which is held by Congress as “plenary power”.
    This disenfranchisement applies to any resident, regardless of place of birth, ethnicity etc, even if you already had it somewhere else.
    Self determination is a basic human right and should not be restricted or suppressed for the sake or benefit of a dominant polity who already enjoy it.

    • rick whitaker

      December 11, 2023 at 1:38 pm

      r. soto, i would welcome a 51st state if the people voted for it. i enjoyed your thoughtful comment, thanks.

  • Michael K

    December 11, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Washington, DC – like Puerto Rico – is also subject to taxation without representation. Yet, DC’s population is greater than Vermont or Wyoming, but with no senators or voting representation in Congress.

    Puerto Rico should become a state, like Alaska and Hawaii did – along with DC.

  • rick whitaker

    December 11, 2023 at 2:52 pm

    michaelK, if the dems win the trifecta of president, 60 senators, and house majority, then we could welcome in 2 more states.

  • R. Soto

    December 11, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Americans just have to stop treating Puerto Rico like a pawn in their stupid political games. De-colonize all territories and set them free. If they then petition the US for statehood put it to a vote. If they’re denied entry by the other states at least they know where they stand and can move forward in control of their own destinies and affairs without the constant interference and manipulation.

    • Nelson Hernandez

      December 14, 2023 at 11:23 pm

      Agreed 100%…

  • Dont Say FLA

    December 11, 2023 at 6:01 pm

    Why does Rhonda feel like Puerto Rico humans would vote Democrat?

    Does Rhonda think they are ingrates and failed to appreciate Trump’s papels absorbentes?

  • FloridaPatriot

    December 12, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    And this low IQ mentality is why you are losing Ronnie. It is more than partisan politics and right wing culture wars. You are not fit to be a POTUS.

Comments are closed.


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