Former House speaker and 2014 gubernatorial aspirant Heinz Hofschneider’s team has been encouraging former lieutenant governor and Independent Republican vice chair Diego T. Benavente to be Hofschneider’s running mate, Saipan Tribune sources said.
Benavente, also a former House speaker and minority leader, neither confirmed nor denied this yesterday afternoon with the Saipan Tribune.
Hofschneider, a Republican even under former governor Benigno R. Fitial’s term, plans to run as an independent. He has been back on island and has restarted meeting with individuals about his 2014 political aspirations.
So far, only the Republican tandem of Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) has publicly announced their candidacy for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively.
Hofschneider’s camp was also earlier reaching out to Rep. Ralph Yumul (Ind-Saipan).
Independent-Republicans led by chair Sen. Pete Reyes (Ind-Saipan) and vice chair Benavente met Wednesday night to discuss the Republican Party’s standing invitation for the IRs to rejoin the GOP.
Rep. Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan), one of those in the meeting, said the “preliminary concession” was that “there is still an Independent Republicans team.”
“We will continue to uphold transparency and accountability in government; that’s the people’s mandate and that’s what people expected when we were placed again in the 18th Legislature. I don’t want to betray that,” he said.
Another individual present at the meeting echoed Tebuteb’s statement that the Independent Republicans will remain as a group.