UPDATE (05-24-18): John Upchurch – a Democrat candidate – went on WNDB’s Marc Bernier Show to call on Ward to get out of the race based on his comments. Click here for a video from Upchurch.
Earlier reporting below.
Lake County, FL – Comments made by a local Republican candidate for Congress about Puerto Ricans being able to vote in Florida next November have gone viral on social media.
John Ward – who is running for Florida’s 6th Congressional District spot in the House of Representatives – made these comments during a debate with Fred Costello last month in Lake County.
“First of all, I don’t think they should be allowed to register to vote [in Florida],” Ward said “It’s not lost on me that I think the Democrat Party is really hoping that they can change the voting registers in a lot of counties and districts and I don’t think they should be allowed to do that.”
Ward also noted in the video above that he felt the goal should be to get Puerto Rico back on its feet from Hurricane Maria so Puerto Ricans can return to their homes.
Costello – who resides in Ormond Beach – is another GOP candidate for that same seat. It was his campaign which posted the video above this article on YouTube last week.
In the video above and during an appearance on WNDB’s Marc Bernier Show, Costello slammed Ward’s comments, but Ward defended himself through an email from a spokesman when WNDB News reached out.
“I stand by what I said. I do not believe the Democrat Party should be able to take advantage of Puerto Rican evacuees fleeing a natural disaster, here on a temporary basis, in order to manipulate voter registrations rolls in the run up to the 2018 elections. I would welcome any Puerto Rican who wants to permanently resettle in Florida to register to vote here. We’re all American citizens together. That said, if a natural disaster displaced me from Florida to some other state temporarily, I’d still want to vote by absentee in [Florida], my home community and voter registration, and not elsewhere.”
Ward’s statement continued as follows.
“As I said previously, we should be working as a state and nation to apply resources and capital to help these displaced American citizens to return to their homes in Puerto Rico. Home is where we all want to go, that is why home is called home. There is a difference between coming here temporarily, displaced by a natural disaster, and making a permanent life here on the mainland. Again, I welcome any Puerto Rican who wants to resettle here permanently and I want to do the work necessary to allow Puerto Ricans, that want to do so, to return home safely.”
Florida’s 6th Congressional House District covers all of Flagler and Volusia counties as well as southern St. Johns County and eastern Lake County. It’s currently represented by Republican Ron DeSantis, who is leaving for a gubernatorial run.