CNMI REPUBLICANS TO REMAIN UNITED

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Candidates to support whomever wins primary

By Emmanuel T. Erediano & Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 30, 2009) - Gubernatorial candidate Juan N. Babauta and his running mate Galvin Deleon Guerrero reiterated last Friday their commitment to support whoever wins the Republican primary.

In an interview during their team’s gathering in Garapan, Babauta said he believes that Republicans are going to stay unified regardless of who wins the primary.

Deleon Guerrero said as part of their commitment to reunite the party, he and Babauta will wholeheartedly support Rep. Heinz S. Hofschneider and his running mate, Speaker Arnold I. Palacios, if they win the primary in June.

The Board of Education member at the same time believes that if he and Babauta win the primary, Hofschneider and Palacios will support them in November.

"It kind of hurt the party that we did not have a primary in the last gubernatorial election. We learned our lesson," he said.

He pointed out that both camps could have ran as Independents, but decided to honor their commitment to the GOP.

Babauta said they are working very hard to win the primary.

Noting that every election is different, the former governor said it is hard to predict this year’s outcome based on past experiences.

This election, he said "is very unique," as the GOP candidates will have to deal with three other tickets in the general elections — Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and his running mate, Finance Secretary Eloy Inos of the Covenant Party; former Sen. Juan T. Guerrero and House Floor Leader Joseph N. Camacho, a Democrat and a Republican running as Independents; and the Independent team of former Sen. Ramon S. Deleon Guerrero and his running mate, former Education Commissioner David M. Borja.

For the first time in CNMI history, there will be a runoff between the top two gubernatorial candidates in case no one garners 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast.

"In terms of which way this election is going, it is hard to tell," Babauta said.

BB reunited

Among the guests at the Juan-Galvin gathering on Friday was former Lt. Gov. Diego T. Benavente, Babauta’s running mate in the 2001 and 2005 elections.

Benavente, a Precinct 1 member of the House of Representatives, backed out of this year’s gubernatorial race.

He said he is supporting Babauta because they go a long way back and he believes in the former governor’s capabilities.

Senate President Pete P. Reyes also attended the gathering held at the Ocean’s Bar in Garapan.

Deleon Guerrero said Babauta is acknowledging the mistakes made during his term as governor.

"Nobody is perfect," he said.

He also believes that the GOP’s traditional open primary will make the party stronger.

Destablization

In a separate interview, Hofschneider said it is possible that members of other political groups will take advantage of the GOP’s open primary policy to "destabilize" the ticket with the stronger support base.

Hofschneider lost to Fitial by only 84 votes in the 2005 elections despite running as an Independent candidate after the GOP, for the first time in its history, decided not to hold a primary.

But Hofschneider remains optimistic that the better team will prevail in June.

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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