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 2018. The 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.