It ain’t over till its over – Rubio’s big win in Puerto Rico provided much-needed oxygen for his campaign.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida easily won Puerto Rico’s Republican presidential primary election Sunday, with supporters saying he would help lift the island out of its long economic slump.
Returns showed Rubio with 24,866 votes, followed by Donald Trump at 4,494 and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 2,922, with 95 percent of voting centers reporting.
Rubio says his landslide win in Puerto Rico’s primary is proof that he can expand his party in a general election.
The Florida senator is playing up his “electability” as he tries to catch GOP delegate leader Donald Trump and second-place Ted Cruz.
Rubio said in an interview Sunday that he “campaigned in Puerto Rico as a conservative” and still garnered more than 70 percent of the vote in an “open primary.”
The senator says that “is evidence I can take conservatism to people who don’t normally vote Republican” and win their support.
“The numbers are overwhelming,” said local Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez, chairwoman of Puerto Rico’s Republican Party. “This primary in Puerto Rico … will demonstrate that the Hispanic vote is important.”
Residents of the US island, which is struggling through a decade-long economic stagnation, cannot vote in the general election in November but can take part in the party primaries. Any registered voter could participate in the Republican vote, but only if they signed a document of affiliation with the party moments before casting a ballot.
Holding 71 percent of the votes cast Sunday, Rubio was all but sure to win all 23 delegates determined by the primary.
Orlando Gomez, a retiree whose two sons recently moved to the US to seek jobs, said he participated in the primary because of concerns over the island’s economy. He voted for Rubio.
“He understands Latinos because he is Latino,” Gomez said. “And he can bring us closer to statehood.”