FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2015 file photo, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, D-P.R., testifies before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on Puerto Rico's current economic conditions and long-term fiscal health, in Washington.
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2015 file photo, Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, D-P.R., testifies before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on Puerto Rico's current economic conditions and long-term fiscal health, in Washington.

Updated: July 31, 2019, 1:39 p.m.

Embattled Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello has announced his nomination of Pedro Pierluisi, a former congressional representative, to be the U.S. territory's new secretary of state.

The decision puts Pierluisi in line to become governor when Rossello steps down Friday. However, it is not clear whether Pierluisi will become secretary of state as some lawmakers say they will not vote to confirm him in a special legislative session.

Protesters took to the streets for several days to demand Rossello's resignation after investigative journalists leaked nearly 900 pages of offensive online chats between him and 11 top aides. The conversations included profane messages laced with contempt for victims of 2017's Hurricane Maria, as well as misogynistic and homophobic slurs against Rossello's political opponents.  

Rossello's would-be successor, then-Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin, resigned in the immediate aftermath.

Under the U.S. territory's constitution, the secretary of state automatically fills a vacant governorship. 

The second-in-line for the top job would be Justice Minister Wanda Vazquez, who has said she does not want to be governor.

Legislators have only until Friday, when Rossello leaves office, to name his successor.

Possible conflict of interest

Rossello said he chose Pierluisi "after a lot of analysis, and taking into account the best interests of our community." 

In his tweet, Rossello announced a special legislative meeting Thursday for lawmakers to vote on the nomination.

Some Puerto Rican lawmakers say they will oppose Pierluisi's nomination because of a potential conflict of interest. Pierluisi works for law firm O'Neill and Borges, which provides external consulting to the unelected federal control board that oversees the entire island's finances. Pierluisi's brother-in-law, Jose B. Carrion III, also chairs the board.

Pierluisi has been on a leave of absence from O'Neill & Borges since Tuesday, according to the firm's website. 

Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez answers reporters' questions, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jan. 16, 2018.
FILE - Puerto Rico Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez answers reporters' questions, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Jan. 16, 2018.

Protests have already sprung up denouncing Vazquez as too close to Rossello. 

Pierluisi served as Puerto Rico's non-voting congressional representative from 2009 to 2017, and was previously the island's secretary of justice in the 1990s, under the administration of Rossello's father, Pedro. In 2016, Pierluisi ran against Rossello for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party's governorship nomination, and lost.

Rossello told The New York Times that Pierluisi would not run for governor in 2020, but would instead finish out the term. 

Rossello had also come under fire for his handling of the island's hurricane recovery and for corruption within the territory's government, which included the arrests of two former Cabinet members in the days before Rossello's chats were leaked.