The Democratic Party of the Northern Marianas last week threw its support to former governor Juan N. Babauta after the latter chose to leave his former party and decided to seek his previous post as an independent candidate. Former CNMI State Public School System commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan is Babauta’s running mate.
Babauta was a Republican when he won the CNMI’s chief executive post in 2002, but lost his reelection bid in 2006 to former House speaker Benigno R. Fitial, who then became the Commonwealth’s sixth governor. The late Pedro P. Tenorio served twice.
The Democratic Party, through a central executive committee resolution, said Babauta has parted ways with the local GOP with no more intention of rejoining his former party, saying that the CNMI Republican Party has lost its vision.
“Although [Babauta] was first elected governor as a Republican, he since has parted ways with the Republican Party (which in recent years has degenerated to historic lows of arrogance, abuse of power, absence of principle or vision, and the politics of self-aggrandizement over service) and has made it clear he has no intention to ever return to the Republican Party,” said the resolution signed by party chair Daniel O. Quitugua and secretary Jonathan P. Cabrera.
They resolution added that people of the CNMI are looking for competence and leadership as qualities of a gubernatorial candidate.
“The people of the CNMI are crying out for a gubernatorial candidate who lives and displays the qualities of competence, principle, leadership, and integrity, and has demonstrated the capacity to learn from past mistakes.”
Aside from being committed to equal opportunity and economic justice, and promote responsible citizenship, the local Democratic Party said they are also dedicated to “open, transparent, and accountable government that listens to the people.”
They then cited Babauta’s track record as a public servant starting as the islands’ third CNMI resident representative to Washington, D.C. in 1990 where he served for 12 years before being elected as governor in 2002.
Babauta’s years of being the CNMI resident representative in D.C. helped built “trust and productive relationships, and often having to overcome damage done, and explain embarrassing conduct, of Republican governors, while always safeguarding and promoting the interests of the CNMI people.”
They said that Babauta “has the education, experience, commitment, and competence to rescue the people of the CNMI from deception, corruption, dishonesty, indifference, and incompetence of the current administration.”
The Democratic Party at first endorsed Sablan as their nominee for either lieutenant governor or governor, but they could not find her a running mate. Sablan, a Democrat that hopes to bring back democratic values in the CNMI government, teamed up with Babauta, but the latter was not yet ready to make the jump to the Democratic Party.
They believe that the Babauta-Sablan ticket, once elected, would bring back “confidence and accountability in [CNMI] government, responsiveness to the will of the people, and visionary and creative leadership, particularly in areas of healthcare, education, United States-CNMI relations, cultural values, and the economy.”