BREAKING NEWS: Kilili to run for delegate post anew

Quitugua hints 5 who are interested to run as governor already interviewed
NMI Democratic Party chair Nola K. Hix and vice chair Daniel Quitugua announce the deadline to submit letters of intent to run as governor

NMI Democratic Party chair Nola K. Hix and vice chair Daniel Quitugua announce the deadline to submit letters of intent to run as governor and Delegate for next year’s election at a press conference yesterday at Hyatt Regency Saipan’s Kili Café and Terrace. The party will announce their candidates for governor and delegate by Nov. 4, 2021. (FERDIE DE LA TORRE)

UPDATE: Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) announced in a social media post last night that he will seek re-election as delegate for the Commonwealth.“So, today I am announcing my decision to run for delegate again. It is in Congress I can best serve to make the lives of the people of the Northern Marianas better. That is the work I will continue to do for you if you so choose on election day next year. And I ask for your understanding and your support,” he said in his post on his Facebook page. More details later. The original story follows.

The NMI Democratic Party disclosed yesterday that they have already talked with five individuals who are looking at a possible run for governor in next year’s election, but they remain waiting for Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) to decide whether to run for governor or seek re-election as a delegate.

Whatever the case may be, the party intends to announce its candidates for governor and delegate by Nov. 4, 2021, said Democratic Party chair Nola K. Hix.

So far, only Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has already expressed his intent to run for re-election, with Sen. Vinnie Vinson Sablan (R-Saipan) as his running-mate.

Hix said during a press conference yesterday at Hyatt Regency Saipan’s Kili Café and Terrace that Sablan is pretty much aware of the NMI Democratic Party’s process that’s ongoing and the Nov. 1, 2021, deadline to submit letters of intent to run.

NMI Democratic Party vice chair Daniel Quitugua said their gubernatorial search committee has been doing its due diligence in the past month and a half to identify potential candidates for governor within the party and has already started interviewing the five potential individuals. Quitugua and Hix declined to identify the five.

Notwithstanding what the search committee is doing right now, Sablan is the “center of this whole process,” said Quitugua.

“For example, if Kilili (Sablan) decides to seek the gubernatorial office, all of the people that we interviewed will accept [Sablan as the candidate],” he said.

Hix reiterated an earlier announcement that they are now accepting submissions for nominations and letters of intent to run for governor, lieutenant governor, and U.S. delegate. Hix said these letters of intent will be due by the deadline of Nov. 1.

“We did open up nominations and letters of intent for the other seats, other public offices, and the deadlines for those will be announced at a later time,” she said.

The chair said they are pretty confident that by Nov. 1, the people of the CNMI will be able to grasp this change that’s coming.

Hix said she and Quitugua and the party have been working hard to come up with a formidable, credible ticket—one that the CNMI can be proud of.

“Once again, if people are looking to run for office, let’s keep this positive energy going. Let’s keep this momentum going, good governance continues,” she said.

Hix said they are very excited as there’s been a lot of really good positive comments that they have received from the community. “On people that are willing to run, are ready to run, whether it be the smaller offices or the bigger offices, we ask them to go ahead and submit. Because we really want to know who’s out there. And the purpose of this is just…we’re just adhering to our bylaws,” she said.

That means the bylaws want candidates to be transparent and, in being transparent, they need to be able to open up this process to everybody, she said. “We will leave no stone unturned,” Hix said.

With regards to Sablan, Hix said everybody‘s been waiting for this decision from him. “We’ve been in discussion with him. I am not his spokesperson. But he is very well aware of this process. Regardless of the decision that he makes, even when we made the call for him to run for governor, we basically put out a statement that whatever decision he should make , we would respect that decision,” she said.

Hix said they expect to hear from Sablan before the Nov. 1 deadline so that they can make this announcement.

She said a lot of people have been wondering what the party is waiting for, now that Corina Magofna has been elected as House of Representative Precinct 3 representative, and that they are excited to move forward.

“We’re excited to expand our outreach with regards to gubernatorial candidates,” she said.

Now that vetting process is coming to a close, they need to be able to open it up to everybody to make sure that everybody gets a chance to have a seat at the table, and to also experience that vetting process.

Hix said they should have all of the letters of intent submitted to them by Nov. 1, and they are looking at an announcement by Nov. 4, when the Commonwealth celebrates Citizenship Day. “What a perfect time to be able to announce our gubernatorial candidate and U.S. delegate,” she said.

Quitugua said the process for identifying who will be the next gubernatorial candidate for the Democratic Party is ongoing, but at the same time, they are waiting for Sablan to decide whether or not he will remain in his current seat or seek the gubernatorial seat.

“In the meantime, while we’re waiting for that to happen, there’s a process that currently going on, which is the creation of the gubernatorial search committee,” he said.

He said chair Hix appoints the party members to that committee and that committee has done its due diligence in identifying potential candidates within the Democratic Party and start reviewing those individuals.

“We began that process almost a month and a half ago. And the one remaining can potential candidate that has yet to be interviewed will happen hopefully this week,” Quitugua said.

Upon the conclusion of that interview, they will send the recommendation of the gubernatorial search committee to the members of the central executive committee of the Democratic Party.

In the meantime, he said they put out a public announcement opening the submission of letter of intent to any interested individuals out in the community who thinks that he or she has the requisite qualification to be the governor of the CNMI.

“We are searching for someone who can excite the community, who can bring new paradigms of governance into the Commonwealth,” he said.

Quitugua said the election result of the special election sent a very strong message to all the people of the Commonwealth, including off island residents, that the status quo is not acceptable and that the young millennial voters are looking for someone who can excite them.

“It doesn’t matter whether they are independent or Republican. If you’re interested, submit your letter of intent,” Quitugua said.

As to the question if Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) has expressed an interest to run as governor, Quitugua only stated that everybody’s welcome, including Rep. Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan), Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Sen. Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota), Sen. Edith E. DeLeon Guerrero (D-Saipan) or anybody else in the community who is interested and has something to contribute to the revitalization of the CNMI.

He clarified that there is no primary to decide who is their candidate for governor and delegate.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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