While the CNMI Republican Party leadership did not entertain former governor Juan N. Babauta’s request for a primary, it looks forward to Babauta’s support as a lifelong Republican as the CNMI heads for the November 2014 gubernatorial elections.
Babauta’s request came five months after the GOP had already endorsed the gubernatorial tandem of Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) on Sept. 25, 2013.
“Despite the decision, Mr. Babauta and Mr. [Juan S.] Torres are still Republicans. As life-long Republicans, they are still part of the GOP. We welcome them. We welcome their counsel. We look forward to them joining us as we continue serving our communities,” Ivan Blanco, chairman of the GOP Central Committee’s public relations team, told Saipan Tribune yesterday.
Babauta said last night he will wait for the return of his running mate, former senator and former representative Juan Sablan Torres, before making any official comment, when asked about his plans after receiving the GOP’s letter.
Republican Party president James A. Ada, in a one-page letter to Babauta yesterday, said the party had already endorsed the Inos-Torres ticket for the 2014 race.
“Accordingly, the CNMI Republican Party will not entertain your request at this time. However, we want to thank you for your interest and look forward to your continued assistance and support of our party. In this spirit, please join us at the GOP kickoff rally scheduled for March 23, 2014, at the Susupe basketball courts as we officially launch our GOP campaign for the upcoming election,” Ada added.
The GOP leadership made the decision to decline Babauta’s request for a primary during a meeting on Wednesday night.
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, 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.
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.