Endorsement watch: Democrats Gillum, Nelson to appear today with Puerto Rico governor

Democratic governor nominee Andrew Gillum (left) and Dem. Sen. Bill Nelson are expected to pick up endorsements from Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló today. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló will make a “special campaign announcement” with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson at 10:45 a.m. in Orlando this morning, then make a “major campaign announcement” with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum at 1:15 p.m. in Kissimmee.

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The apparent Rosselló endorsements could help Democratic efforts to turn out Democratic-leaning Puerto Rican voters, who are a growing force in Florida politics, particularly in and around Orlando. Democrats have sought to gain from criticism of President Donald Trump‘s response to Hurricane Maria last year.

The number of Floridians who identify as Puerto Rican Hispanics in the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey was estimated at more than 1 million in 2016 — up from 482,027 in the 2000 census. About 30 percent of Florida’s Puerto Ricans live around Orlando in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging Nelson in the Senate race, has made eight trips to Puerto Rico since Maria hit in Septemberr 2017. In a pre-emptive strike Sunday night, the Scott campaign released the names of 46 Puerto Rican officials who have endorsed his campaign, including U.S. Del. Jenniffer González-Colón, Lt. Gov. Luis Rivera Marin and former Gov. Luis Fortuño.