The Republican Party will not be holding a primary to choose a candidate for governor and lieutenant governor because the GOP already endorsed in September the candidacies of Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan), sources said, after the GOP’s meeting last night to decide on former governor Juan N. Babauta’s request for an open primary.
Ivan Blanco, chairman of the GOP Central Committee’s public relations team, said the Republican Party will be sending today a formal response to Babauta’s Feb. 21 letter, based on the results of last night’s meeting.
“A GOP decision has been made in response to Mr. Babauta and Mr. [Juan] Torres’ letter of intent and out of courtesy to them, the response decision will be transmitted [today],” Blanco told Saipan Tribune last night.
But sources said the decision is to not hold a primary, because of the Inos-Torres endorsement last year, which also followed the Covenant Party’s merger with the Republican Party.
Babauta, who picked former senator Juan Sablan Torres as his running mate, said last night he would like to see the GOP’s actual letter before making his next move.
He reiterated that he and Torres would like to be given an opportunity to be considered for an open primary election in the selection for candidate for governor and lieutenant governor.
“I am a lifelong Republican,” he said. “If the party behaves by closing the doors of opportunity for other members in a way that is unfair, the party loses somehow because there is dissension in the ranks, there is animosity within the ranks and some will call themselves independents. I am giving the party the opportunity to make a decision on a practice that holds the party together.”
Babauta said “a party that stays together goes through the process together” and that the GOP should remain as “party of inclusion, not exclusion.”
As of last night, he said he has not decided yet whether to still run or not if and when the GOP formally declines his request for a primary.
There are at least four individuals vying for the governor’s post, including Inos and Babauta.
Former House speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider declared his candidacy as an independent on Monday, with Senate floor leader Ray Yumul (Ind-Saipan) as his running mate.
Former Commonwealth Ports Authority executive director Edward “Tofila” M. Deleon Guerrero, a Democrat, also confirmed he wants to run for governor on Saturday.
A four-way race is expected to result in a runoff election because it would be difficult for any of the candidates to get at least 50 percent plus one of the votes cast in the general elections.