Former governor Froilan “Lang” Tenorio has thrown his support behind Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and his running mate, Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), in the November general election.
Tenorio is the second from the Democratic Party to endorse the GOP standard bearers after former senator Marica Frica Pangelinan.
Tenorio served as the fourth CNMI chief executive from 1994 to 1998.
He said he is now a Republican and Torres’ relationship with President Donald Trump is why he is supporting the Republican Party nominees against the independent team of former governor Juan N. Babauta and Dr. Rita A. Sablan.
“I am endorsing Gov. Torres in the upcoming election. I am a Republican, and I voted for President Trump in 2016. I will vote for him again in 2020, if I live that long,” said Tenorio in a statement.
“Trump is very good for the [CNMI] and especially with Torres as governor of the CNMI. I join my families on Saipan in supporting the re-election of Torres, and the election of his running mate, [Sen.] Palacios.”
He added that Trump was pleased to learn that the CNMI Republican delegation, headed by Torres, endorsed him during the 2016 GOP presidential primary. The CNMI was the lone territory to endorse the former reality-star-turned politician.
“The President was very excited when he learned that the CNMI Republican delegation chaired by Governor Torres endorsed him for president during the primary in 2016, the only territory to do so,” said Tenorio, who is currently residing in Texas.
He said that Trump returned the favor by signing H.R. 5956 or the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 last July.
Tenorio also expressed confidence that Trump, who still has more than a year in his first term, will win re-election. “This is more reason why the CNMI should retain Torres as governor in the upcoming election, so that he will have four more years to work with the President.”
He said that he once saw Torres standing next to the President when the other state governors visited the White House. “One does not get that close to the President unless he is invited to do so, a sign of the close friendship between the two. That was a very proud moment of my life.”
Tenorio said Torres’ relationship with Trump is in contrast to when he was still in office and even accused then-President Bill Clinton of shutting down the CNMI economy “by taking away our right to have a textile industry.”
He added that Torres was also often criticized for his close relationship with casino investor Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC.
“The casino is the major industry on Saipan and it is there to stay, providing much needed revenues to the government and employment for our people. [Torres] has to ensure the successful operation of the casino and has the responsibility to help the casino investor as much as possible. To stand in the way is misguided. Believe me, whoever is governor of the [CNMI] will do exactly as what Torres is doing.”
Tenorio said there’s a legitimate concern about the operations of the casino but believes the Commonwealth Casino Commission is doing its job.
“If we were to make changes, I suggest that one worthy proposal is to have [CCC] members be elected so that the[y] provide a direct relationship with the people they are protecting.”