|June 13, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.
Governor Sila Calderon! 2001 2004! Pushed or Pulled?
Now that the dust has settled on Governor Sila Calderons shocking announcement that she would not seek the Governorship of Puerto Rico for a second term, speculation continues as to the real reason or reasons for the decision. She asserted that it was not a precipitous move, but, rather, a decision long in the making. Her message to the islands radio and television audience suggested that she was "pulled" by personal considerations to make the move. At age 60, she said she wanted time and space to enjoy life. "I want to use (the future) to benefit my own personal life," she told Puerto Ricans.
Party loyalists, stunned by the announcement, rallied around her chosen successor, José Alfredo Hernández Mayoral, anointing him as the next Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the governorship. Disappointed aspirants for the privilege were gagged in the interest of "party unity." Cynics among them, and most everyone in the opposition parties, looked for darker reasons and began posing questions.
Most questions centered on the proposition that she was "pushed" out of the possibility of a second term by PDP kingmakers. They had judged that her administration had not met their expectations and that it would be difficult to raise money for a 2004 PDP campaign with her as the candidate. They had pointed to a stagnant economy, crippling unemployment, rising crime statistics and a contentious leadership style. Additionally, although she had spent record amounts on Washington lobbyists, her U.S. Congressional agenda had been a flop.
Pushed or Pulled?
That is the question for this week's readers of the Puerto Rico Herald. Do you think that Gov. Sila Calderón was powerfully "pulled" away from a second term by the magnetic force of prospects of an idyllic private life or do you think that influential PDP players, disappointed by her incumbency and doubting if she could beat the resurgent New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate, "pushed" her out of La Fortaleza's back door? Everyone presumes the NPP flag bearer will be former Governor Pedro Rosselló except, of course, Carlos Pesquera, who is determined to face him in a primary election.
The question that titillates the "pushed" theory holders is why the move was made so dramatically. If Ms. Calderon had been considering eschewing a second term for many months, why didnt she handle the news with more subtlety, using news leaks, second party statements, etc. Just weeks before, she predicted to a crowd that she would hold the governorship for "twelve more years." She dismisses those utterances as references to the PDP and not to herself. But the question remains, why did she leave herself a "lame duck" governor for the last eighteen months, unless she had been forced to do so?
Those holding the "pulled" position simply take her at her word. She has been silent as to whether or not former Economic Development Secretary Ramón Cantero Frau was to be a part of that future, but the two had been an "item" in the gossip pages of local newspapers over the previous months. Although she dismissed speculation about the state of her health, her recent visit to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City raised eyebrows. She says that her outpatient status there was for a "routine mammogram," but it leaves the question as to why she chose the world famous center for a procedure that is routinely administered by clinics in Puerto Rico.
There is also the possibility that she was "pulled" to recognize the very factors that the "pushed theory" believers hold. Days before her announcement, Puerto Ricos leading newspaper, El Nuevo Dia, generally recognized as a pro-PDP publication, splashed its front page with the results of a poll it had undertaken, showing Calderon loosing to both Rosselló and Pesquera. Perhaps the first female Governor of Puerto Rico was "pulled" to the realization that she would lose the next election and, being the experienced politician that she is, replaced that nightmare with sweet dreams of life after politics.
Do you think that Sila Calderón was "pushed" to make the decision to withdraw from the 2004 election by forces outside of herself or do you think that she was "pulled" away from the prospect of a second term by factors both personal and political to herself?