Puerto Rico Governor May Not Seek Re-Election, Report Says

  • Garcia Padilla says announcement information is incorrect
  • Puerto Rico's gubernatorial election is one year away

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla may announce this week that he won’t seek re-election, El Nuevo Dia, the island’s biggest daily newspaper, reported, citing unidentified sources.

In a comment posted on the 44-year-old governor’s official Twitter account, Garcia Padilla said the information about the announcement was incorrect. He didn’t say whether he is running for re-election. He is a member of the Popular Democratic Party, which seeks to keep Puerto Rico a U.S. commonwealth. Garcia Padilla’s term ends January 2017.

“Let’s not get distracted from the goal: to keep lowering unemployment, crime and debt,” wrote Garica Padilla, who is speaking Wednesday at an East Coast German American Industry Forum event in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The administration is seeking to reduce the commonwealth’s $73 billion of debt by asking bondholders to take a loss and delay principal payments. Puerto Rico’s economy has failed to grow since 2006 and its unemployment rate is 11.4 percent, more than twice what it is in the U.S.

If the governor decides not to run again, a new administration would come in with its own plans and ideas about how to spur Puerto Rico’s economy, said Heidie Calero, an economist and founder of H. Calero Consulting Group Inc. in San Juan, an economic analysis firm. No Puerto Rico governor has served for more than one term since 2001.

“Why is it that every time we have to build from scratch? It’s not intelligent,” Calero said. “We don’t have time to be inventing and destroying things and starting with new things. We need to agree on an economic path.”

The governor doesn’t believe it is possible to govern the island through its financial crisis while campaigning for re-election, according to the El Nuevo Dia report.

David Bernier, Puerto Rico’s secretary of state, said on Sunday that he would resign from his position effective Friday, igniting speculation that he would seek to become the island’s next governor. Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s non-voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives and a member of the island’s New Progressive Party, has said he’ll run for governor. Pierluisi has been critical of how Garcia Padilla has handled the island’s debt crisis.

Puerto Rico general-obligation bonds maturing July 2035 traded Wednesday at an average of 72.9 cents on the dollar to yield about 11.5 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average price Tuesday was 72.4 cents.

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