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Calderon Names Referee To Mediate PDP Resident Commissioner Race

Race to be candidate boils over into battle

by Ivan Roman

August 1, 1999
Copyright © 1999 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The race to be the Popular Democratic Party's candidate for resident commissioner has gotten so hot they've called in a referee.

Former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon is incensed that his son, candidate Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral, was not allowed on stage at the party's massive event last Sunday celebrating the establishment of the Commonwealth. So he fired off a letter to San Juan Mayor Sila Maria Calderon, the party's gubernatorial candidate, threatening her with unspecified legal action if the party continues to support his son's rival, Rep. Anibal Acevedo Vila, House minority speaker and party vice president.

Calderon, a member of Hernandez Colon's last administration, shot back saying she was tired of her ex-boss' criticism, which she says hurts the party. Acevedo Vila was on stage, she said, because he is an elected official.

Calderon defends her right to back Acevedo Vila as her running mate.

The race has turned into a battle between those who back Calderon and Acevedo Vila and the "Rafaelistas," who remain loyal to Hernandez Colon and resent Calderon's rejection of his son. It has played out for months, but this latest round of public letters has turned it into a crisis. Party members flooded radio talk shows to say they've had enough.

Hector Luis Acevedo, the PDP's gubernatorial candidate in 1996, is horrified by the ordeal.

"I see this as being really dangerous to the PDP," Acevedo said.

Calderon decided not to accept Hernandez Colon's request for a meeting and instead formed a commission headed by former Justice Secretary Hector Rivera Cruz to mediate the dispute.

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