The Republican Party of the NMI Association will be welcoming Gov. Eloy S. Inos, other former Covenant Party members, and independents at the GOP’s general membership meeting at the Garapan Central Park pavilion tonight, galvanizing the GOP that has been “broken” and split in so many ways for years.
Today is also the eve of the governor’s 64th birthday, which will be celebrated along with a fundraiser at Fiesta Resort & Spa in Garapan tomorrow.
Inos will be the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate in the 2014 race.
Although not formally announced yet, Inos has reportedly picked Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) as his running mate. The last hurdle in the tandem was the reunification of their parties, and that has already been addressed.
Republican Party president Jack Villagomez said yesterday that the governor will be personally addressing the GOP membership tonight.
Today’s Republican general membership meeting comes a week after the Covenant Party, through its own general membership meeting, decided to follow Inos back to the GOP and dissolve the Covenant Party.
Torres, who will also be at tonight’s meeting, separately said the Republican Party will be adopting its revised bylaws and will be welcoming the governor and others.
Villagomez also said the four incumbent lawmakers that were members of the former Covenant Party will be part of the GOP candidate slate for the 2014 elections. He was referring to Reps. Ralph Demapan, John Paul Sablan, Edmund Villagomez, and Christopher Leon Guerrero.
He said former speaker Oscar M. Babauta, campaign chairman of the former Covenant Party, will also be a GOP senatorial candidate in 2014.
“The members of the former Covenant executive committee will also be members of the Republican Executive Committee,” he added.
When asked whether the GOP will also field a candidate for a nonvoting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, Villagomez said he personally supports Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).
“He’s doing a great job. The submerged lands law, that was his work, and many other things,” he added.
Villagomez said the GOP will be at the governor’s birthday fundraiser tomorrow.
“We will lay the red carpet and personally deliver a birthday cake to the governor at his birthday Thursday,” Villagomez said, adding that it would also be a “symbolic gesture” of welcoming the governor to the party where he originally belonged.
Earlier yesterday, Torres said joining forces “is a step in the right direction in unifying the [Republican] Party.”
The reunification of the GOP and Covenant Party has changed yet again the CNMI’s political landscape. The Republican Party had a dismal showing in the 2012 elections mainly because of voters’ disappointment with the party president, former governor Benigno R. Fitial. The former governor resigned on Feb. 20 this year, days before the start of his impeachment trial at the Senate.
Fitial founded the Covenant Party in 2001, after leaving the Republican Party, which he co-founded. Fitial rejoined the Republican Party on Jan. 5, 2011, but was unable to merge at the time the Covenant Party with the GOP.
Many Covenant Party members at the time—including Inos—did not follow Fitial to the Republican Party. Some former GOP members later called themselves Independent-Republicans. Now that Fitial is out and remains off-island since Feb. 21 this year, the GOP leadership and membership has undergone changes.
Besides Inos, other possible contender for governor in the 2014 elections is former House speaker Heinz Hofschneider.