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Friday, April 18, 2014

GOP chair Villagomez resigns

Joaquin “Jack” P. Villagomez resigned as chairman of the Republican Party of the Northern Mariana Islands Association on Friday for “health reasons.”

Villagomez was elected GOP chairman on July 31. He stepped down on Dec. 6.

It was under his leadership—a short four months—that the CNMI’s political landscape changed with the merger of the Republican Party and the Covenant Party and the selection of Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) as the GOP’s gubernatorial team in 2014.

Villagomez replaced former governor Benigno R. Fitial as Republican Party chairman.

Angel A. Demapan, spokesman for the Inos-Torres Campaign, confirmed with Saipan Tribune yesterday Villagomez’s resignation for “personal health reasons.”

In the interim, first vice president Marianne Teregeyo becomes the acting president until a new president is named.

“Pursuant to the party rules, the GOP board of directors is charged with the selection of a new president and they are expected to fill this post in the coming days,” Demapan said.

He said Inos, the GOP’s standard bearer, “wishes to express his appreciation to Mr. Villagomez for his leadership during his stint as president.”

“Mr. Villagomez was actively involved in the unification of members of the Covenant Party into the GOP,” Demapan added.

Meanwhile, former Covenant Party campaign manager and former speaker Oscar M. Babauta separately said the Covenant Party will file its formal notice of dissolution this week.

Inos was the titular head of the Covenant Party before it merged with the Republican Party. It was under Villagomez’s leadership that the GOP invited Inos and other Covenant Party members to rejoin the GOP.

Besides Inos, the other potential gubernatorial candidate for the November 2014 race is former speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider. However, Hofschneider has yet to find an individual who is willing to become his running mate.

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has yet to announce a gubernatorial candidate.

With the merger of two parties, the Republican Party is once again a formidable political party following its dismal showing in the 2012 race under Fitial.

Fitial resigned days before the start of his impeachment trial at the Senate. The House impeached him for allegations of corruption, neglect of duty and felony.

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