The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico will have no say in the presidential election come November, and its Sunday primary has been overshadowed by bigger upcoming races in states like Illinois.
Still, frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum ventured off the mainland this week to woo Puerto Rico voters. In a race in which every delegate counts — and in which a connection with the Latino vote could pay off in the long run — the Puerto Rico primary will matter more than many probably expected it to this year.
Delegates: Puerto Rico will award a total of 23 delegates after Sunday’s primary — 20 at-large delegates will be allocated proportionally while the last three will remain unbound to any candidate, though they can state their candidate preference.
That makes Puerto Rico nearly as delegate-rich as Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands combined. After Romney won 34 delegates delegates in those territories, his campaign noted boasted in a memo that they “helped expand his delegate lead, pushing him closer to the nomination.”
With that in mind, it’s not that surprising that Romney is heading to Puerto Rico on Friday, while his wife Ann joined Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno to meet with Puerto Rican senior citizens earlier in the day.
Newt Gingrich hasn’t traveled to the island himself, but his daughter Kathy Lubbers has spent the past two days there. Meanwhile, Santorum visited Puerto Rico earlier in the week, but the trip may have backfired after he stirred up controversy by asserting that English should be spoken “universally” in Puerto Rico before the territory becomes a state. Santorum said his initial comments were misconstrued, but they nevertheless cost him two important Puerto Rico supporters who found the remarks offensive.