With Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and members of the Republican Party of the CNMI Association in full force, Dr. Ignacia Demapan filed her candidacy for CNMI nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday.
Demapan is so far the only one challenging incumbent Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (Ind-MP), who filed his nomination petition and documents with the Commonwealth Election Commission last July 9.
Fitial, at the same time, said the Republican Party which he chairs has a complete slate of 24 candidates for the Nov. 6 mid-term elections.
These include one for delegate, three for Rota, Tinian, and Saipan senatorial seats, and 20 for the House of Representatives seats on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
“We have something going good for the Commonwealth,” Fitial said shortly after turning all documents to the Election Commission yesterday morning. “The fact that we are now associated with the Republican National Committee in the states, we can safely say that if [Mitt] Romney becomes the president, and if the [U.S.] Senate, if the Republicans control the Senate, then the Commonwealth will be in better hands. So that's the only reason why I'm urging the people to vote for a team-a team that has good relationship with the federal government. And I believe this team is the Republican Party.”
Fitial went back to the Republican Party in January 2011. Months later, he became its president again, the way he did for more than 10 years prior to forming his own Covenant Party to support his gubernatorial candidacy.
The governor and Demapan spoke of “teamwork” for the GOP to win this year's races.
The last day for filing nomination petitions and documents, along with legislative initiatives, is tomorrow.
Prior to the filing, Demapan said Republican Party members are filing their candidacies all at once and “as a team.”
“My message to the voters is that I am here to give a different look to our U.S. delegate office and I feel that I can be really strong and represent the people of the CNMI in the U.S. Congress. I will not be afraid because there are many issues that need to be worked out so I do hope that people of the CNMI will give me their vote of confidence so that I can work for them,” she told reporters.
Besides Demapan as delegate candidate, the Republicans also have the following senatorial candidates: incumbent Sen. Luis Crisostimo (Ind-Saipan), former representative Victor Hocog for Rota, and former representative Joaquin “Jack” Borja for Tinian.
Former Rota mayor Joseph Inos is advisor for and staunch supporter of Hocog and his running mate, Rep. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota). Inos is the brother of Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos, now the titular head of the Covenant Party.
The GOP's House representative candidate for Tinian is former representative Edwin Aldan.
For House seats in Precinct 1, the six Republican candidates are incumbents House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan) and Joseph Palacios (R-Saipan), along with Richard Seman, Vicente “Ben” Cabrera, Ray Dela Cruz, and Joe Limes.
Precinct 2 GOP candidates are Eric Atalig and Liana Hofschneider.
The six Precinct 3 candidates are incumbent House vice speaker Felicidad Ogumoro (Cov-Saipan), Roy Rios, Joe P. Saures, Jesus Castro, David Maratita, and former representative Juan Reyes.
Reyes, a former secretary of Public Works, said he will be focusing on the economy. He said if he wins, he will propose that the 2 percent developer's tax will be used to improve the infrastructure in the area where the investment that paid the developer's tax is located instead of having that tax go back to the general fund.
GOP's Precinct 4 candidates are incumbents House floor leader George Camacho (Ind-Saipan) and Sylvester Iguel (Cov-Saipan).
Precinct 5 also has the two incumbents: Rep. Ray Basa (Cov-Saipan) and Rep. Fred Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan).
Most of the Republican candidates and party members and supporters were wearing red as they crowded the Commonwealth Election Commission office and grounds yesterday.
Also in the crowd were former governor and now Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Juan N. Babauta, Lands and Natural Resources secretary Arnold I. Palacios, Commonwealth Ports Authority board chair and businessman Joe Lifoifoi, CPA executive director Ed Guerrero, Public Safety deputy commissioner Ambrosio Ogumoro, other Cabinet members, and government employees.
RNC national convention
Fitial said he and eight other Republicans from the CNMI are all set to go to the Republican National Convention in Florida later this month, reiterating that Romney will get all the nine delegate votes from the Commonwealth.
He said this is the biggest contingency from the CNMI to attend a Republican National Convention.
“We'll be there, Aug. 26, that's the welcoming ceremony,” he said.
Fitial showed a letter that RNC chair Reince Priebus sent, thanking him for all the support he has provided to the presidential campaign committee. The governor also showed a Romney CD, “Anything is Possible,” that Priebus also sent him.
“This is relationship. Not only he sent his son, he also sent his brother-in-law,” Fitial said, referring to Rod Davies, whom Fitial said came here “almost two months ago.”
Romney's son Matt and wife were on Saipan during the Republican caucus. It was the first time that a presidential campaign set foot on CNMI soil, Republicans said.
“The fact that he sent his son and brother-in-law is a very strong indication that he cares for us. You heard Romney when his some came up to the house. He said, 'governor if I'm blessed and become president of the United States, I will never forget you'.. That's what he said,” Fitial added.
The nine delegates from the CNMI to the RNC convention will shoulder their expenses, the governor added.
Fitial added that the RNC will also provide to the local party some funds.
“Not yet but they will,” he said. “I'm very close to the chairman. Every time Angel [Demapan] and I go to Washington, we go and relax at his office.”
Prior to the Republicans filing their candidacies, a group which calls themselves “Independent Republicans” also filed their candidacies yesterday.
Their chair, Senate floor leader Pete Reyes (R-Saipan) and vice chair/former representative and former lieutenant governor Diego Benavente, led the team.
Benavente, also chair of the IRs' Precinct 1, said there were 11 IR candidates that filed their candidacies: One for Saipan senator, and 10 for House Saipan seats.
Rep. Ray Yumul (R-Saipan) is the Independent Republicans' senatorial candidate for Saipan.
The Precinct 1 IR candidates are: incumbents House minority leader Joe Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) and Rep. Tony Sablan (R-Saipan), along with Mario Taitano and Roman Benavente.
The Precinct 3 candidates from the IR group are incumbents Rep. Ray Tebuteb (R-Saipan) and Rep. Frank Dela Cruz (R-Saipan), along with Ralph Yumul and Tony Benavente.
For Precinct 5, the IR candidates are Larry Deleon Guerrero and Antonio Agulto.
Benavente said the other precinct seats are filled with candidates from the Covenant Party.
The Covenant Party and the Independent Republicans have formed an alliance.