Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and his running mate, Sen. Vinnie F. Sablan, led the NMI Republican Party candidates, while Rep. Christina E. Sablan and her running mate, Rep. Leila Fleming Staffler, were at the forefront of the NMI Democratic Party candidates, as they all filed their candidacy papers Friday.
The NMI Republican Party showed off its formidable force, with hundreds of GOP supporters and family members accompanying Torres and Sen. Vinnie Sablan, who are running for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, and the 26 other GOP candidates in filing their candidacies. Two Republican candidates earlier filed their candidacies, while one is expected to file this week.
Republican Party supporters and family members showed up at the CEC office in Susupe at 10:45am, most of them wearing red shirts that were emblazoned with the party’s campaign slogan, “Together, Stronger.”
Torres and Sen. Vinnie Sablan were the first among the 26 Republican candidates who submitted their petitions for nomination and candidacy documents to CEC executive director Kayla S. Igitol and her staff.
Starting at 3:30pm, Democratic Party candidates led by Rep. Christina Sablan and Staffler, along with about a hundred supporters wearing blue shirts printed with the party’s slogan, “Trusted Leadership,” arrived at CEC, with the CNMI’s first governor himself, Carlos Camacho, also showing up to support the Democratic Party’s candidates.
Rep. Christina Sablan and Staffler, who are running for governor and lieutenant governor, respectively, were the last to file among the 10 Democratic Party candidates. Two other candidates have already earlier filed their candidacies.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), who is seeking his 8th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the first one to submit his election documents.
Two others—Rep. Celina R. Babauta, who is running for a Saipan and Northern Islands Senate seat, and Rep. Denita Yangetmai, who is seeking re-election for a House of Representatives Precinct 3 seat, had already filed their candidacies.
In a later interview, Torres thanked the CNMI community for giving him and the Republican Party its vote of confidence for the last several years.
“And also I’d like to thank all of the supporters, families, and candidates that filed today to show their support and continue to believe in the family of GOP,” said Torres, who turned 43 last Saturday and is the youngest governor in the U.S.
He said they have new candidates for this Nov. 8 general election, who are all here to continue to work to protect the government retirees’ 100% pension and give them a bonus as much as they can.
Torres said that, with their proven leadership, new airlines are coming in and they are bringing back the Japan market—all part of efforts to boost the local economy and revising the CNMI’s tourism industry.
Sen. Vinnie Sablan said their filing of candidacies make it official for the future of the people and for the future of the CNMI.
“All the candidates, we’ve all work hard to really sustain the livelihood of the people. That’s what we’re here to do, we’re here to pave the way for future leaders,” the senator said.
Sen. Vinnie Sablan said the crowd last Friday is a testament to the Republican Party representing the people.
In a separate interview, Rep. Christina Sablan said it’s an exciting day for her and for the Democratic Party and all their candidates. “We are looking forward to the next few months in a very spirited race,” she said.
The lawmaker is hoping to have debates with gubernatorial candidates Torres and Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios.
Palacios is running as a governor, with Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang as his running mate, under a unified independent team.
Rep. Christina Sablan said what’s really important in this election is that voters have choices, and that Democrats are offering the choice for good governance, fiscal responsibility, fairness, and honesty in government. She said people deserve the kind of change that all people want.
Sablan said she is just overwhelmed with gratitude as they have great supporters every step of the way.
“And everybody that you see here today and everybody that’s here in spirit, they’re looking for the change and good governance that our people deserve,” she said.
Staffler said she is grateful to everybody who were able to come out.“We know that there are a lot of people who really wanted to come but could not for various reasons,” she said.
She said they are grateful to have this opportunity to be able to serve the community in another way and she promised a campaign that is based on good governance and trusted leadership.
“Our campaign is based on accountability and transparency in government,” said Staffler, adding that it is something that she and Rep. Christina Sablan have been advocating for since they met in 2015, before either of them were even involved in government.
“And now today, we are standing before you to be your future governor and lieutenant governor and hope that the people will be able to experience good governance in our administration,” Staffler said.
Delegate Gregorio Sablan said he is running for 8th term and is grateful and humbled “and I want to express my gratitude to the people who are following me for my seven terms,” he said.
He said he would continue working hard for his 8th term.
As of Friday, no one has filed a candidacy to challenge Delegate Gregorio Sablan’s re-election.
If no one files candidacy for delegate by the Aug.10 deadline, it will be Delegate Gregorio Sablan’s third time to run unopposed.
For the Republican Party who filed Friday, for the Senate Saipan and Northern Islands seats, Rep. Angel A. Demapan and former representative Janet U. Maratita submitted their candidacy papers.
For the Senate Tinian and Aguiguan seats, Senate President Jude U. Hofschneider filed his candidacy. Sen. Francisco Q. Cruz filed his candidacy last July 22.
For the Rota Senate seats, Rota Mayor Efraim M. Atalig and special assistant for Department of Homeland Security Dennis James C. Mendiola filed their candidacy documents.
For Saipan mayor, Rep. Joseph Lee Pan T. Guerrero filed his candidacy. For Tinian mayor, Edwin P. Aldan filed for his re-election. For Rota mayor, Commonwealth Economic Development Authority board chair Aubry M. Hocog filed her candidacy. For Northern Islands, Valentino N. Taisacan Jr. filed his candidacy last July 28.
For the House of Representatives, for Precinct 1 Rep. Roy A. Ada filed his candidacy.Four others—Arlene Marie M. Reyes, Lucinda R. Salepeo, Patrick M. Cepeda, and Frankie F. Angel—also filed their candidacies
For Precinct 2, Keith C. Ada and Eric B. Esteves filed their candidacies.
For Precinct 3, the six who filed are Grace Sablan Vaiagae, Ana Demapan Castro, Quiad O. Ngirchongor, Alfred L. Saures, Carl James Hocog, and Joaquin Sablan Jr.
For Precinct 4, David R. Sablan filed his candidacy. Cecilia R. Taitano is expected to file her candidacy papers this week.
For Precinct 5, former Rep. Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero and Thomas John DLC. Manglona filed their candidacies.
For Precinct 6 or Tinian, Rep. Patrick H. San Nicolas filed his re-election.
For Precinct 7 or Rota, Ivan T. Mereb Jr. filed his candidacy.
For the Democratic Party, for the Saipan and Northern Islands Senate seats, Rep. Celina R. Babauta has already filed her candidacy.
For the Tinian Senate seats, the Democratic Party has no candidate. For Senate Rota seats, the party is supporting the candidacy of Rep. Donald M. Manglona, who is running as an independent.
For Saipan mayor, Rep. Richard T. Lizama filed his candidacy. The party has no candidates for Rota and Tinian mayors.
For the House of Representatives, for Precinct 1, Rep. Edwin K. Propst filed his bid for re-election. The party’s other bet is Diego Vincent F. Camacho.
The Democratic Party has no candidate for Precinct 2.
For Precinct 3, Reps. Vicente Castro Camacho and Denita Yangetmai are seeking re-election. Yangetmai recently filed her candidacy as she has to attend an off-island conference. The third bet is Lauren Yvonne S. Pangelinan.
The Democratic Party has no candidate for Precinct 4. For Precinct 5, Peter Reyes Muna filed his candidacy.
For Precinct 6 or Tinian, Frederick A. Dela Cruz filed his candidacy. The party has no candidate for Precinct 7 or Rota.