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58 percent voter turnout ‘disappointing’

By Erin Thompson AGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 6, 2010) – After a hard-fought race that saw the Republican teams taking public swipes at each other while the unopposed Democratic team stayed mainly in the background, the gubernatorial election has now come into focus.

Unofficial results released from the Guam Election Commission early Sunday showed the team of Sens. Eddie Calvo and Ray Tenorio coming in first in the Republican gubernatorial primary with 9,221 votes. The team of Lt. Gov. Mike Cruz and Sen. James Espaldon garnered 6,458 votes.

On the Democratic side, the sole gubernatorial team of former Gov. Carl Gutierrez and Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. came in with 8,140 votes.

"We won the AFC championship game, now we're going to the Super Bowl," Calvo said yesterday during a non-partisan Labor Day picnic that still managed to take on a political tint the day after the Primary Election.

"We kept away from personal attacks and we focused on the issues and our game plan for moving this island forward and building a better future for all the people on Guam," Calvo said.

[PIR editor’s note: Pacific Daily News reported separately that only 58.2 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls on Saturday. "I'm surprised," Blas said as the ballots were being tabulated. "Voter registration was very active in the last couple of weeks and even up until the the last week of voter registration (through the) program out of the mayor's office. For me, that's kind of discouraging."

Now that the first hurdle to the governorship has been overcome, Calvo said the battle would shift gears to wooing Cruz-Espaldon voters and presenting a united front against Gutierrez.

But within minutes after the Cruz-Espaldon team accepted defeat on Sunday, some members of their camp already were throwing support behind Gutierrez.

Cruz and Espaldon's campaign spokesman Carlo Branch told the Pacific Daily News that he's a registered Democrat, and he had supported the Republican team because of Cruz's understanding of the military buildup.

"He had more understanding of the buildup, which I believe was the most pressing issue for the island and our future," Branch said. He added that of the two teams in the gubernatorial race, Gutierrez showed that he will "unite all sectors of the island" and that the election is going to "come down to who can heal the wounds (of the people)."

At 1:50 a.m., Cruz placed a call to Calvo and said, "Hey, congratulations. It was a well-fought victory and good luck to you and Ray. Senator, congrats to you and Ray. OK?"

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At the end of the call, Cruz told the Pacific Daily News that his time in public office is done. He said all he wanted to do was to serve the people and get Guam Memorial Hospital accredited.

Cruz said he will return to being just simply being Mike Cruz -- "a father, a husband, a soldier, a surgeon."

Meanwhile, Calvo said his efforts would be directed at "reaching out to all levels of Mike and Jimmy (supporters) and bringing them into the fold, making them a part of our family, and moving forward from there."

Calvo said the campaign would put forward a positive message to voters, and focus on core issues such as health care, education and making sure that the military buildup benefits islanders.

In squaring off against a candidate that has a years-long track record when it comes to elected office, Calvo said he would continue to try to appeal to voters with a message of movement for a new direction.

"He has his record as a senator and the governor," said Calvo. "I have my record as a senator, and I'm ready to present that record and that game plan for the future."

As current senators and new hopefuls turned out to enjoy food with supporters and constituents at yesterday's picnic, Calvo shook hands with friends and supporters, kissed babies and posed for photos.

While he made the rounds, a supporter for Gutierrez heckled the scene.

Though Gutierrez-Aguon ran unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Joey Duenas, treasurer of the Guam Democratic Party, said Democrats were watching the Republican race closely because they needed to know who their opponent was going to be in the General Election.

"We need to figure out which team we need to campaign against, because that will dictate campaign strategy," Duenas said. "Mike Cruz has been painted by Calvo-Tenorio as being an incumbent and Calvo-Tenorio painted themselves as outsiders, so it's a different opponent either way."

Despite a lower voter turnout on the Democratic side, Gutierrez said he was pleased with Saturday's election results, especially considering that most of the voter excitement was on the Republican side.

Gutierrez said hotly contested races, such as the race for vice mayor in Agat, meant that many voters who would normally vote for him may have decided to vote in the Republican primary. While registered Democrats or Republicans can vote in either primary, voters could only cast ballots for either the Democratic or Republican races.

Gutierrez said the campaign would continue to focus on the issues of leadership and character, and rely on the candidates' records in office to reach out to voters.

While the Calvo campaign has focused on the theme of a new direction, Gutierrez said his campaign will stick to the idea of leadership and experience.

"I think the people want change for leadership and experience," he said. "They're not looking for change on the face. They're looking for change to have leadership."

He said the campaign will unroll its strategy for success in the next several weeks, but that his team was making a point not to underestimate what he called a formidable opponent.

"We never underestimate any opponent," said Gutierrez. "That's how we win."

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