Vázquez Quintana quits race for La Fortaleza
The former Health Department secretary said in a statement that he decided to get out of the race after an “arduous process of reflection.”
Vázquez Quintana didn’t reveal his reasons for quitting and said he wouldn’t comment further on the issue.
“I want to reiterate my commitment to winning sovereignty for Puerto Rico and the defense of the right to healthcare, among other issues,” he said. “As always, I will continue to speak out, formulate proposals and fight for those causes that have been and will be priorities.”
Vázquez Quintana served as Health secretary during the New Progressive Party administration of Gov. Pedro Rosselló, but left the Cabinet post amid differences over the implementation of health reform. He went on to head the upstart Civil Action Party in the early 2000s before signing on with MUS.
“It is with heavy hearts that we accept Dr. Vázquez Quintana’s decision. We wish him hope in his future personal and professional endeavors and we know that he will continue to use his talents in the defense of sovereignty for Puerto Rico,” the MUS directorate said in a statement.
Inter News Service reported that Vázquez Quintana’s exit stemmed from friction with party leadership over ideological differences and his spotty performance in a recent gubernatorial debate.
A source told INS that MUS leaders were upset over public appearances in which Vázquez Quintana failed to pitch the party’s sovereign focus. He also reportedly ruffled feathers with his view that Puerto Rican statehood had some merit as an avenue of decolonization.
“He could never shake his ideology and that was causing strife in the organization,” a source told INS.
Vázquez Quintana’s candidacy had been pushed by independence leaders Carlos Gallisá and David Noriega. A source with ties to the party said the thinking was that his solid public image and the fact that he was not drawn from the ranks of the island’s independentista or left-wing circles could help MUS attract voters from across the political and status spectrum.
Former Puerto Rico Bar Association President Julio Fontanez was originally expected to get the party’s gubernatorial nod, but he opted instead to be its electoral commissioner.
The party’s resident commissioner candidate is defense attorney María de Lourdes Guzmán. She and Arturo Hernández are reportedly being considered to replace Vázquez Quintana as the gubernatorial candidate.
MUS is one of the island’s six officially recognized political parties heading into the November elections. The others are the New Progressive Party, Popular Democratic Party, Puerto Rican Independence Party, Working Peoples Party and Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico.