House floor leader George Camacho (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. Ray Basa (Cov-Saipan) confirmed yesterday that they will be joining Gov. Benigno R. Fitial in the Republican Party, while others said they have yet to decide whether to seek re-election in 2012 and under which political party. Others couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.
Fitial gave a Dec. 30 deadline to those he sent letters to or personally asked to join him in the GOP.
The governor is again president of the Republican Party, months after rejoining the party in January. He formed his own Covenant Party in 2001 to support his gubernatorial bid, which he won in his second attempt.
In November, he asked lawmakers whether they want to seek re-election and whether they will run under the Republican Party.
Camacho said it’s an “honor” to be asked by the governor to join his political party.
“Since the beginning, I’ve always wanted to join the majority and work with others too. Only through collaboration will we get things done. I indicated in my letter that I am willing to join the party if they accept me,” said Camacho, adding that he sent the letter to the governor on Thursday.
Basa, in a separate interview, said he was personally asked by the governor to consider joining him in the GOP.
“The last few weeks, I’ve been weighing my options,” he said. “We’re in a predicament. I respect the governor’s decision to go back to the Republican Party because it’s for the good of the people. Because he’s a lifetime member of the Republican Party nationally, he could get more leverage for the CNMI,” said Basa, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
He said it was a “very difficult decision to make” but at the end of the day, he said he decided to seek re-election and run under the Republican Party.
House minority leader Joseph Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) said yesterday that he is not ready to respond yet.
“I have not made the decision yet whether to seek re-election or under which party,” he said.
Other Republicans earlier said they will take their time to make a decision.
Rep. Ray Palacios (Cov-Saipan) said yesterday it’s hard to make a decision just yet about re-election and political affiliation because of a pending case against him in connection with alleged “ice” distribution.
“If only this case is behind me, I would have a decision by now. For now I am devoting my time to serving the remainder of my term. Is that too much to ask?” he said.
Palacios, who stepped down as chairman of the House Committee on Education in November, said he also has yet to confer with his precinct club chairman, Jack Aguon.
Rep. Trenton Conner (R-Tinian) reiterated that the Republican Party chair “should grant courtesy meeting first and inform us, then [send an] official letter” later.
“I have to consult my family group and supporters first,” he said.
While Fitial and others rejoined the Republican Party, Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos has remained with the Covenant Party. This is the first time in CNMI history that the governor and lieutenant governor belong to two different political parties.
The governor said he does not want to force people to join him to the GOP.
“If it’s your desire, and we hope it is, to seek re-election as a candidate for the RPNMIA, please submit in writing your letter of intent on or before Dec. 30, 2011. Your letter can be hand-delivered to me or to any of the other Party officials or mail it to the address above or e-mail it to me at email@example.com,” Fitial told lawmakers.