Res. Com. Pedro Pierluisi (D)
Elected: 2008, 1st term.
Born: April 26, 1959, San Juan .
Home: San Juan.
Education: Tulane U., B.A. 1981; George Washington U., J.D. 1984.
Family: Married (Maria-Elena Carrion); 4 children.
Elected office: PR atty. gen., 1993-96
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1997-2007
Pedro Pierluisi, a member of the New Progressive Party (PNP) who caucuses with the Democrats in Washington, was elected Puerto Rico’s resident commission in November 2008. Pierluisi grew up in San Juan, the son of former Puerto Rico Housing Secretary Jorge Pierluisi. Pedro Pierluisi graduated from Tulane University and George Washington Law School in the early 1980s and served as an aide to Resident Commissioner Baltasar Corrada of the PNP. He practiced law for six years in Washington. In 1993, Gov. Pedro Rosselló of the PNP appointed him attorney general of Puerto Rico. He argued two constitutional cases before the Puerto Rico Supreme Court and got Puerto Rico designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. He left Rosselló’s scandal-plagued administration in 1996 and practiced law in Puerto Rico.
In February 2007, the PNP’s Luis Fortuño, then the resident commissioner, announced he was running for governor. Three months later, Pierluisi decided to run for resident commissioner. Although the two have different mainland party affiliations (Fortuño is a Republican) they both are strong backers of statehood for Puerto Rico, and ran on a united ticket. Pierluisi spent $1.5 million, while his PPD opponent Alfred Salazar spent only $529,000. Pierluisi won by 53%-42%, an almost identical result as Fortuño’s victory, and carried 71 of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities. This was basically a straight-ticket election, the biggest win for the PNP ever and the biggest win for either party in Puerto Rico since 1964.
In the House Pierluisi caucuses with the Democrats and has seats on the Education and Labor, Judiciary and Natural Resources Committees. He has the largest office budget of any House member, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., because he represents by far the largest constituency, with nearly 4 million people compared to the average congressional district’s 700,000. In March 2009, Pierluisi and Del. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, co-sponsored a bill to provide military retirees, dependents and survivors in Puerto Rico and Guam with more robust health insurance. In May 2009 he introduced a bill on Puerto Rico status, similar to a bill introduced by Fortuño in 2007 that passed in committee but never received a floor vote. It calls for a referendum on maintaining Puerto Rico’s current status and, if the vote is negative, authorizes the government of Puerto Rico to hold a referendum to choose between commonwealth, statehood or independence.