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PuertoRicoWOW News Service
Davila Colon Gives 'Post-Mortem' On Election Results
by Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin
November 14, 2000
Gov. Pedro Rossello's confrontational attitude, the presidential agreement on Vieques, and the corruption issue were the top three reasons for the New Progressive Party's (NPP) downfall in the Nov. 7 general election.
That was the analysis provided to San Juan Rotary Club members Tuesday by political analyst and radio talk show host Luis Davila Colon, who said those factors allowed Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Sila Calderon to become Puerto Rico's first woman governor.
During a luncheon at the Marriott Hotel in Condado on Tuesday, the author of "God Sila" presented a list of 20 reasons why former pro-statehood gubernatorial candidate and NPP President Carlos Pesquera lost the elections.
Davila Colon said nothing substantial can be gleaned from the increase in the number of registered voters from 2.38 million to 2.44 million from 1996 to 2000, or the decrease in voter participation from 82.8% in 1996 to 81.7% this year.
Still, he said the fact that Calderon targeted her political campaign to low-income voters in major urban centers was of great importance.
"Sila Calderon simply ran a brilliant campaign. Instead of targeting the "melones" [pro-independence supporters who vote for the PDP], she targeted soft, urban, lower-income clusters of NPP voters in Bayamon, Carolina, San Juan, Caguas, and Trujillo Alto. That's where almost 50% of the votes are, and that's where the NPP had its natural strength in the 80s and 90s," said Davila Colon.
Davila Colon said Calderon was also successful in targeting the governor's my-way- or-the-highway style during her campaign even when Rossello was not running for the gubernatorial seat.
He added that this PDP strategy was reinforced by Pesquera's many mistakes during his campaign, one of which was his failure to distance himself from the governor's shadow.
"He did not have the stomach to run against his mentor and to differ on key issues which, by common sense he had to be on the other side," said Davila Colon referring to the issues of Vieques, the $25 million Monument for the Third Millennium, and the ousting of former Family Secretary Angie Varela.
Davila Colon also criticized Pesquera's team for running a personality based campaign, saying that he did not have the charisma that Rossello had. He said Pesquera's lack of killer instincts as a politician, his poor verbal ability and his statement that the Vieques issue had been solved were all tactical mistakes in his campaign that chipped away at his chances to beat Calderon for the gubernatorial seat.
"Pesquera is a good man, but he is certainly no Tom Cruise," he said. "Pesquera can't talk. He has no oral capacity, no killer instinct, and doesn't possess the character to attack. It's against his nature."
On corruption, Davila Colon stressed that one peculiar aspect of the 2000 general election was that the issue had become a determining factor for the first time in local history.
Davila Colon also criticized Rossello and the NPP for their way of handling the Vieques agreement, which originally included the transfer of 8,000 acres of the west side of the island municipality to the local government by year's end. It also mandated a referendum in which the Vieques residents would decide on whether or not U.S. Navy should stay on the municipality indefinitely.
"There is nothing that can explain why, being this an electoral year, Pedro Rossello would not wait nine more months to sign an agreement. That was a major mistake," said Davila Colon, who dubbed Vieques as the most over hyped, misinformed, distorted, emotionally charged issue since the sale of the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. (PRTC) in 1998.
The sale of the former government-owned telephone company now administered by GTE, caused serious confrontations between telephone workers, labor unions and the Rossello administration. This was believed to be a factor in the results of the 1998 status plebiscite, which favored the fifth column, or "none of the above," over statehood.