GOP TAKES CONTROL OF GUAM LEGISLATURE

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By Katie Worth

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Nov. 4) – The Republican victory for control of Guam's Legislature and the ouster of five Democratic incumbents caught many in both parties by surprise, as the majority shifted from the blue party to the red.

Though a recount is possible - a mere four votes separate the senatorial candidates in 15th and 16th place - Republicans would retain the majority in the Legislature.

Sen. Joanne Brown won the 15th and final spot in the 28th Legislature, but as of yesterday's corrected tally, her lead narrowed from nine to four votes ahead of Speaker Ben Pangelinan, in 16th place.

Though Pangelinan has said he doesn't know whether he wants a recount, Democratic Party Chairman Michael Phillips said if Pangelinan and other senators do not object, he would like to request the Guam Election Commission to consider a recount.

Phil Flores, the chairman of the Republican Party, said he would be open to a recount if the speaker would like one.

Election Commission Executive Director Gerald Taitano said the commission has the authority to recount in any race in which there is a less than 2 percent difference between candidates.

Of the 15 senators elected out of 30-candidates, six were new faces.

Of the six non-incumbents voted in, two have never before been in the Legislature, including Republican Dr. Mike Cruz and Democrat Adolpho Palacios.

One reason the election results took many by surprise is that it contrasted strongly with the results of recent weeks' polls, which had projected the Democrats would retain the legislative majority.

Flores said the Republicans are delighted with their regained majority, which the party lost two years ago.

"We were thrilled with the results, and when the exit polls came in 10 to five -- that seemed almost too good to be true and of course it was, but we'll take the nine to six majority any day of the week," he said.

He chalked the win up to the Republican Party's steady theme of inclusion and working together.

"I also think that last-minute attacks on Republican members such as (Sen. Mark Forbes) backfired. And I also think the injection of (former Democratic Gov. Carl Gutierrez) into the ads and the news in the last week had a negative result for the Democrats," he said.

Phillips said the results were "definitely a shock."

He said the only change that occurred over the last week had to do with the controversy involving Democratic Sen. John Quinata and acting Police Chief Frank Ishizaki. Last week, Ishizaki accused Quinata of being responsible for the release of his confidential polygraph report. Quinata responded that he did not release the report and said the release was a political ploy by Republicans to get him out of the Legislature.

Quinata, who finished 22nd out of 30 senatorial candidates, said he wasn't sure how big of a factor the controversy played in the shift of the Legislature.

"It could have been a big factor, that's possible, but it should have just damaged me and not the others ... the others weren't even affiliated with the controversy," he said.

"We can analyze it all day, but the best we could do is honor the people's voice," he said.

Pangelinan said he, too, was surprised at the outcome.

"I don't believe this is a referendum on the career I've had or the work I've done for the people. I think it was a last-minute thing that happened. But in the end it's the number of votes you have," he said. "I think the last several days ... some of the underground politics that is not always visible has reared its ugly head."

He would not elaborate on the "underground politics."

He said he isn't sure what he'll do now that he will be out of the Legislature for the first time in many years.

November 4, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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