While it’s not in the same scale as 2012 when he took an eye-popping 80 percent of the vote, incumbent Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan won a fourth term as the CNMI’s nonvoting delegate to U.S. House of Representatives after beating CNMI Democratic Party bet Andrew Salas by more than 4,000 votes in Tuesday’s election.
According to unofficial results from the Commonwealth Election Commission, Sablan garnered 8,579 votes against Salas’ 4,547 votes—a difference of 4,032 votes.
“It’s very humbling. To know that when voters look back on my six years in office they believe that I have worked hard and made their lives better—that’s very humbling,” Sablan said in an email to Saipan Tribune.
He said the people of the Commonwealth have given him the opportunity to make life better for all people in the CNMI.
“I am very grateful for that trust. And my commitment to improving life here in every way I can is renewed by the tremendous support I received in Tuesday’s election. You have my promise: I will continue to work for you—as hard as ever—in the 114th U.S. Congress.”
Asked about his margin of victory against Salas, a former lawmaker and Commerce secretary, Sablan said this year’s elections shouldn’t be compared to the 2012 polls where he won by a landslide twice over.
“What surprised me was the 60-point spread I garnered in the 2012 election. That 80 percent was an anomaly and 2012 cannot be the benchmark measurement for my races. This year’s results, where the spread was a sensible 31 points—my 66 percent to my opponent’s 34 percent—is a result I can accept as reasonable. Of course I am pleased that the unofficial results show me receiving over 4,000 votes more than my opponent or that I received more votes than any other candidate who was on the 2014 general election ballot,” said Sablan.
The now four-term congressman thanked his family, supporters, the voting public, and the people of the CNMI for yet another election win.
“My family, committee, supporters, and our people own this win. I cannot do it alone and it is their help, trust and support that make possible this success for the fourth time. And I remind myself always that it is our people that decide who represents them in Congress. It is our people who say that I can go to Washington to stand in their place and to speak on their behalf in Congress. This is the reason why I had installed at the door entrance to 423 Cannon these words: This office belongs to the people of the Northern Mariana Islands. Kilili thanks voters: ‘I will continue to work for you.’”
Among his priorities in the 114th Congress is education—finding more resources for CNMI students, teachers, and schools.
He also enumerated a plethora of issues that he needs to address—both local and federal.
“We are still caught in the middle of the transition to federal management of immigration. There are still issues to resolve. Add to that the Legislature’s recent decision to license a multi-billion dollar development without giving thoughtful consideration about where these investors will get the 7,000 to 10,000-plus workers they need for their business operations. Bringing thousands of strangers to our islands—possibly increasing overnight our population by 20 percent—will create irreversible and irrevocable changes to our communities. And the U.S. military wants to be a much bigger presence in our islands. We will have to manage that.”
Sablan is the first and only person to have represented the Northern Marianas in the U.S. Congress.