Neck-and-neck races

10 Democrats, 10 Republicans, 4 independents win based on CEC’s unofficial tabulation results

A reinvigorated NMI Democratic Party made inroads in the turf of the traditionally dominant Republican Party in last Tuesday’s election after 10 of its candidates won seats to match the 10 seats the GOP also won, based on the unofficial tabulation by the Commonwealth Election Commission.

The tabulation, which was held at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe, began Tuesday night and ended at 4:10am Wednesday.

Four independent candidates led by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan, who ran unopposed for his seventh term as delegate, prevailed in the unofficial CEC counting. Sablan got 11,258 votes.

CEC board chair Jesus Sablan said yesterday that they’re not going to certify the results of their tabulation as official until they count the remaining absentee ballots that are coming on Nov. 17. He estimates that there are 50-100 remaining absentee ballots.

This early, it appears mathematically improbable for the remaining absentee ballots to change the outcome of the unofficial tallies. The closest that is likely to change results is the battle for the last sixth place between Rep. Ralph Yumul of the Republican Party and Corina Lorraine Magofna of the Democratic Party. Yumul has 1,230 votes so far, while Magofna has 1,195—a margin of just 35 votes.

The other close contest is for the Tinian House seat between Patrick Hofschneider San Nicolas of the Republican Party and Frederick Arend Dela Cruz of the Democratic Party. San Nicolas got 625 votes, while Dela Cruz obtained 579—a margin of 46.

In an election described by the CEC as out-of-the ordinary, the 2020 polls saw former representative Edwin K. Propst of the Democratic Party land as the No. 1 vote-getter among 14 candidates for Precinct 1 of the House of Representatives, despite not campaigning. Propst, who resigned last Oct. 1, received 1,883 votes. If Propst does not accept his seat, then there will be a special election for Precinct 1. He has remained silent about his plans if voters want him to serve again.

Celina Roberto Babauta, also a Democrat, came in second with 1,727 votes. Babauta’s husband, former Department of Public Safety official Franklin Babauta, may likely be appointed as replacement for Propst to serve his remaining term, which is only until January, being the next candidate with the highest number of votes at the 2018 election.

At this year’s election, 13 incumbents prevailed, while six failed to make it, based on the unofficial CEC counting.

Five women will serve in the House and another, Edith Deleon Guerrero of the Democratic Party, will join Sen. Teresita Santos (Ind-Rota) to serve in the Senate.

Deleon Guerrero received 5,133 votes to topple Sen. Sixto Kaipat Igisomar, a Republican, who got 4,888 votes. Deleon Guerrero won precincts 1, 2, 3, 5, and absentee voting. Igisomar prevailed only in Precinct 4 and in early voting.

For the Tinian Senate race, Karl Rosario King-Nabors of the Republican Party got 711 votes to win over Jose Pangelinan Cruz of the Democratic Party, who got 503.

For Rota Senate race, Sen. Paul A. Manglona, an independent, obtained 721 votes to prevail over Dennis James Camacho Mendiola of the Republican Party who received 653—a margin of 68 votes.

In the House Precinct 1 race, aside from Propst and Celina Babauta, the other winners are Joseph Arriola Flores, Joseph Lee Pan Tenorio Guerrero, Roy Christopher Aldan Ada, and Angel Aldan Demapan.

In the House Precinct 2 race, Rep. Christina-Marie Elise Sablan, a Democrat, is the top vote-getter with 586 votes. House floor leader John Paul Sablan, a Republican, got 528 votes to grab the remaining slot.

In the House Precinct 3 race, Rep. Edmund Joseph Sablan Villagomez, an independent, landed first with 1,610 votes. Joining Villagomez in the Magic 6 are House Speaker Blas Jonathan Tenorio Attao, Rep. Ivan Alafanson Blanco, Denita Kaipat Yangetmai, Vicente Castro Camacho, and Rep. Ralph Naraja Yumul.

In House Precinct 4 race, Rep. Joel Castro Camacho, a Republican, got the first place with 832 votes, while Rep. Sheila Therese Jack Babauta, a Democrat, received 726 to fill the remaining slot.

In the House Precinct 5 race, Leila Haveia Fleming Clark Staffler, a Democrat, came strong with 1,317 votes for first place. Rep. Richard Tudela Lizama, also a Democrat, received 945 votes for the remaining slot.

In the Tinian House race, Patrick Hofschneider San Nicolas, a Republican, got 625 votes to win over Frederick Arend Dela Cruz, a Democrat, who received 578 votes.

In the Rota House race, Rep. Donald Manglona, an independent, was strong with 871 votes to defeat Barry Toves, a Republican, who got 500 votes.

Staff of the Commonwealth Election Commision monitor the counting machines as they process the ballots early Wednesday morning at the Pedro P. Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe, where the ballot counting was held. (NEIL FAMA)

CEC board chair Sablan considered the counting of votes early, considering the delay in the arrival of votes from Rota and the Northern Islands and the additional polling places because of the early voting process.

Sablan said the tabulation went faster because everybody’s working together to run it smoothly but there should be a new process in dealing with absentee voting as this actually kept them back.

The chairman said the two tabulating machines, which are newly purchased to replace the obsolete ones, were helpful as they’re fast.

“Considering the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re in, I guess it’s a good turnout. I mean, the way we ran it and with all the help from the staff,” Sablan said.

At 10pm Tuesday, CEC administrative officer Kayla Igitol said the CEC commissioners finished processing the 1,062 absentee ballots that came in. At 12am Wednesday, the seven ballots from the Northern Islands arrived at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center. About 20 minutes later, the Rota ballots also arrived.

As of Oct. 7, there was a total of 18,519 registered voters in the CNMI. A total of 8,369 cast early votes in the CNMI.

As of Oct. 26, there were 1,625 absentee voters. CEC counted 11,258 total voters so far.

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
Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.