The Republican Party, the GOP, rallied against granting statehood to Puerto Rico. Except when courting Latino voters.

This year, Republicans in Pennsylvania spoke out against Puerto Rico’s statehood. Pennsylvania Republican National Committee member Andy Reilly said at an April rally in Delaware County that electing David McCormick to the U.S. Senate would support prevent statehood for both Puerto Rico and Washington

But during Wednesday’s appearance in Reading, the city with the largest Latino population in the commonwealth, the issue was conspicuously absent from speeches and responses to reporters.

“How many states are there in the United States,” U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) told a crowd of McCormick supporters in Bucks County on Tuesday. “We have 50 states.”

“Under a Democrat administration, if they can get support, they will make Puerto Rico a state and Washington, D.C., a state,” she added. “And you know what? They won’t have red senators either. We’ll never control the Senate again.”

In a conversation with journalists after his speech on Wednesday at Latinos opening up for Trump in the Reading office, McCormick was asked about Ernst’s comments opposing Puerto Rico’s statehood and whether that would resonate with Pennsylvania voters.

“During the campaign, I am not talking about Puerto Rican statehood as a top issue right now because the things that are taking our country in the wrong direction impact all Pennsylvanians, including the Latino community, and those are the issues they are most concerned about rallying with me for ” – he said.

Ernst stated that “the idea is that if Democrats take control of the House, the Senate and the White House, very radical things could happen, like ending the filibuster, adding additional Supreme Court justices, that’s a scenario she’s been guarding against.”

The reporter asked McCormick to expand on his position on Puerto Rican statehood.

“I wouldn’t want to say it’s a political priority right now,” McCormick replied. “But this is something — I’ve just talked to a lot of people about this — it’s something I want to learn more about because we have a huge Puerto Rican community in Pennsylvania. “As you know, this is a big part of our Latino community and I want to learn more about it.”

McCormick did not address the issue of Puerto Rican statehood during speeches on the campaign trail, but he did address it during interview on TalkRadio 1210 WPHT Philadelphia in April.

“Imagine a possible world where Joe Biden is in the White House and we lose the House, imagine that possibility and you have a Democratic Senate,” McCormick said during the interview. “So much for the filibuster, that is, and welcome to statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington. You can imagine what kind of judges we would have in the Supreme Court. That is, it will be irretrievable.

Biden’s campaign aims to reach Latino voters in Pennsylvania and across the country

The issue of statehood for Washington and Puerto Rico was not part of US Senator Bob Casey’s speeches this year. But Casey did has previously expressed support for D.C. statehood.

Other speakers at the opening of the Trump campaign office in Reading expressed different views on the matter.

Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera was born in Pottstown but grew up in Puerto Rico.

“That’s a good question,” Rivera said after asking reporters if he supported statehood. “I think it would be good, everything has its pros and cons, we’d have to see.”

Rivera added that he would leave the issue to the people of Puerto Rico to choose whether they wanted to be a community, a state or independence.

He said he didn’t think the GOP opposing Puerto Rican statehood would hurt the party politically.

“If you don’t live in Puerto Rico or have family there, it may have an impact, but I don’t think it will have a huge impact on the election,” he said.

Luis Fortuño, former governor of Puerto Rico, was also present at the event in Reading. He supported statehood for Puerto Rico for over a decade.

Like other states across the country, Pennsylvania’s Latino population is growing. Currently, this amounts to approximately approx 7.5% of eligible voters in the state.

The economy, inflation and health care are the top concerns of Latino voters in Pennsylvania.

According to 2020 censusPhiladelphia has the second largest population of Puerto Ricans in the United States among American cities, second only to New York. Allentown is the city with the eighth largest Puerto Rican population in the country and it is the largest portion of the Latino population in the Lehigh Valley.

In 2019, just under 500,000 Puerto Ricans were estimated to live in Pennsylvania Center for Puerto Rican Studiesmaking it the state with the third-highest concentration in the country.

Although Latino/Hispanic voters mostly supported Democrats in previous cycles, the gap appears to be narrowing. In 2020, 69% of Latino/Hispanic voters voted for Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, and 27% voted for Trump, according to data. NBC News exit poll results. That’s lower than the results from 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton received 74% of the Latino vote and Trump received 22%.

Some NBC News Poll in April, 49% of Latino voters supported Biden, compared to 39% for Trump.

“Latinos have played and will continue to play an increasing role in determining the outcome of the election, and this office will help lead us to victory in November,” Rivera said Wednesday.

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