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Farrow: Rossello-Fortuño Would Be An Asset To Island
By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News
November 18, 2003
Jeffrey Farrow, former co-chairman of the Puerto Rico Interagency Task Force under former President Bill Clinton, said that should New Progressive Party (NPP) candidates Pedro Rossello and Luis Fortuño be elected governor and resident commissioner, respectively, in 2004, Puerto Rico would have allies in both the Democratic and Republican national parties.
"If the Republicans continue to control Congress and the White House, Fortuño. . .may have more influence in Congress than a lot of his predecessors have had," Farrow told WOW News on Tuesday.
"Rossello has a lot of friends among the Democratic National Party leadership. Hes been a very good Democrat, so I think in some ways, Puerto Rico will have both parties covered," he added.
Former primary contender for resident commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo said during his campaign that Rossello and Fortuños bipartisan combination would send a mixed message to Congress.
Romero Barcelo said it would be like what Gov. Sila Calderon has been doing, playing on both sides but refusing to affiliate with either national party, which he believes has hurt her credibility.
Farrow said Rossello and Fortuño are different because neither has made a secret of his affiliation.
"The problem with [Calderons] approach is that neither party trusts her. People know Rossello is a Democrat, and hes willing to win or lose with the Democrats; people know that Fortuño is a Republican, and hes willing to win or lose with the Republicans," he said.
Farrow added that Rossello, who was chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, and Fortuño, who is the national committeeman of the Republican Party in Puerto Rico, would make a balanced team, as Republicans would be helping a Republican resident commissioner and Democrats would be helping a Democratic governor.
He also noted the importance of the Hispanic vote to retaining Republican control of Congress and the White House. Fortuño could play a big role in courting that vote.
"Bush got 35% of the Hispanic vote in the last election," said Farrow. "Their [the Republican Partys] target [for 2004] is 50%. In the New York gubernatorial election last year, Gov. Patakiwho is a Republicangot 50% of the Puerto Rican vote, much more than [the party] had got before. Republicans need Hispanic votes to win; they will be asking Fortuño to campaign for them, and they will be doing him favors."
Farrow, a Democrat, said that even if the Democrats take control of Congress in 2004, there will still be a significant Republican minority, which might present a challenge to measures supported by a Democratic governor. Thats where Fortuños affiliation with the Republicans will come in handy.
Farrow made his statements following his address as the main speaker at the San Juan Rotary Club on Tuesday. During his speech, Farrow summarized the failed attempts of the Calderon administration to amend Section 956 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.
He said Calderon missed opportunities to get Congress to extend the benefits of Section 30A and help troubled manufacturing companies remain in Puerto Rico. Instead, said Farrow, the administration insisted on pursuing Section 956 tax benefits, which would only apply to companies that are profitable, such as pharmaceuticals and high-tech firms.
Farrow said Calderons plan to amend Section 956 was doomed from the beginning because members of the Congress never thought it was a good policy for helping Puerto Ricos economy.