New phenomenon in CNMI political history

39 are running as independent candidates

For the first time in CNMI political history, a staggering number of candidates—39 so far, including former governor Juan N. Babauta and former Public School System commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan—are running as independent candidates in this Nov. 6 election.

The number, however, may still increase as there is still enough time to file candidacies. July 9 is the first day to submit nominations and candidacies. The deadline of submission is Aug. 8.

Like the U.S. mainland, CNMI politics has been traditionally dominated by Democrats and Republicans.

Yet this time around, the number of independent candidates is increasing. For Babauta, it’s a new phenomenon in CNMI political history. “I have never seen such big interest and push for people running as independent candidates. This has never happened before,” he said.

In fact, the former governor said, as far as the independent candidates’ slots are concerned, every precinct is filled, and that in some precincts there are way over the allotted number of seats available.

“Is there some dissatisfaction going on within the community? Is it that they’re suddenly interested in what’s going on in government? I’m not really sure,” he said.

What he is sure about is that many are interested in running for public office, which he welcomes. He said it also raises the question why they are not running under either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.

“It is interesting to analyze why that is. My only satisfaction from it is that people are all of a sudden interested in their government. Are they not happy with what’s happening? Or they just want to directly participate in the decision-making process?” Babauta said. “Those are the things that we will be asking ourselves as we move forward.”

The former governor also noted another interesting phenomenon—a growing number of women who are running for office.

“It’s really interesting to ask those female candidates why they are running because the number is staggering,” he said.

U.S. Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan, (MP-Independent) is seeking his re-election.

Saipan Tribune learned from different sources that for Saipan Senate positions, the two independent candidates are Vinnie F. Sablan and Heinz Hofschneider. For Tinian, there are also two—Juanita M. Mendiola and Eric C. San Nicolas. For Rota, there are five—Teresita A. Santos, Jovita M. Taimanao, Joel S. Charfauros, Albert S. Taitano, and Edward C. Maratita Jr.

For House of Representatives Saipan, there are 17 independent candidates—Edwin K. Propst, Samantha Birmingham-Babauta, Lino S. Tenorio, Franklin R. Babauta, Joseph A. Flores, Christina Sablan, Isabel P. Matsunaga, Estanislao Torres, David C. Sablan, Mariano DLG. Fajardo, Vicente Camacho, Luis Tilipao, Edmund Villagomez, Sheila J. Babauta, Malcolm Omar, Cecilia Taitano, and Joseph M. Mendiola.

For Tinian, the lone independent House candidate is Frederic A. Dela Cruz. For Rota, there are two House bets—Thomas T. Atalig and Donald M. Manglona.

For the Saipan mayoral race, Ramon B. Camacho is running as an independent. For the Northern Islands, Vicente Santos is seeking election.

For the Tinian and Aguiguan mayoral race, Henry H. San Nicolas is running as an independent.

For the Rota mayoral race, there are four independent candidates—Steve K. Mesngon, Julie O. Manglona, Crispin M. Ayuyu, and Richard E. Taisacan.

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

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