Democratic Party of the Northern Mariana Islands Inc. board chair Daniel O. Quitugua said their convention last Saturday marks a new beginning for their group in their bid to revive their presence in the local political arena.
The local Democratic Party had already produced two governors—Carlos S. Camacho as the CNMI’s first elected chief executive in 1978 and Froilan Tenorio, who served from 1994 to 1998. Camacho’s lieutenant governor was Francisco C. Ada while Tenorio’s deputy was Jesus C. Borja.
The Democrats also produced the CNMI’s first female senator in Sen. Maria Frica T. Pangelinan, who topped the 2005 race for Saipan. She served one term in the 15th Commonwealth Legislature and chose not to run for re-election.
Quitugua told Saipan Tribune that he was happy with the outcome of their party’s convention. “I am elated. I’m extremely happy and proud that former central committee members were able to come together to this convention.”
“This means a lot, not only for our own members, but also for the community.”
The Democrats had long been dormant in the Commonwealth’s political scene but had small successes, with some of their bets managing to win seats in the CNMI Legislature.
They fielded a gubernatorial ticket in 2014, with Quitugua as Edward M. Deleon Guerrero’s running mate. They finished fourth in the general election and afterwards endorsed the tandem of then governor Eloy S. Inos and Senate President Ralph DLG Torres for the runoff.
The Democratic Party also announced early this year that they are fielding former Senate president and Rota mayor Joseph S. Inos, Eloy’s brother, as its gubernatorial candidate but withdrew his candidacy after two weeks.
“Yes, we’re dormant before. You know, we have a lot of good history and we also have some disappointing [ones]. But all of those are in the past now and this is a new beginning,” said Quitugua.
‘People want change’
The convention was held on Aug. 4, the birthday of former President Barrack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, who ran in 2008 under the campaign slogan “Change.”
And Quitugua said that this is also what the people of the CNMI want.
“Based on what we’ve been hearing in the community, it’s very basic. They feel that the government doesn’t belong to them,” he said when asked what would be the critical issue in this year’s election.
“They feel that the government not only does not represent their interests, but also misrepresent it. Something is definitely wrong. I think, in that sense, they are calling for change.”
The Democratic Party is fielding two candidates for the House of Representatives: Glenn Manglona (Precinct 1) and Peter Muña (Precinct 5). They have joined forces with some independent candidates.
The party is backing eight independent candidates led by the gubernatorial ticket of former governor Juan N. Babauta and Dr. Rita A. Sablan, a former CNMI State Public School System commissioner.
The party is also endorsing the senatorial candidacies of former House speaker Heinz Hofschneider and former local Labor secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero.
The Democrats are also supporting the re-election bid of Rep. Edwin Propst, who is running as an independent for a third time, and fellow Precinct 1 candidates Samantha Birmingham-Babauta and Franklin Babauta.
The party is also endorsing former representative Tina Sablan, another independent candidate. She is running at Precinct 2 after serving in the 16th Legislature representing Precinct 1.
They are also backing CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s bid for a sixth term in Congress.
“When the situation presented itself…we put aside politics and decide to join hands,” Quitugua said. “The best interest of the Commonwealth must be the driving force behind any participation for public service, because the current administration failed to achieve that. That gives us the motivation in getting together and working together to provide the people of the Commonwealth with a government that represents them.”