Inos, CNMI Covenant Party Seek To Reunite With GOP

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New Republican strength if members decide to merge

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Sept. 19, 2013) – In a move that changes yet again the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ political landscape, Gov. Eloy S. Inos got last night the Covenant Party’s support for his 2014 gubernatorial candidacy, a reunification with the Republican Party, and the dissolution of the Covenant Party.

Inos and Covenant Party officials will meet again with GOP officers to finalize the reunification or merger.

Although not specifically discussed in last night’s meeting at the Garapan Roundhouse, Inos has picked Senate President Ralph Torres (R-Saipan) as his running mate in 2014.

The party reunification or merger was a major hurdle in having Inos as gubernatorial candidate and Torres as his lieutenant governor candidate.

Dozens of Covenant Party members and some GOP members showed up at the meeting facilitated by former speaker Oscar Babauta.

The four incumbent Covenant Party members were present along with some Republican Party members such as Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan) and Cabinet members.

Public Works Secretary Martin Sablan made a motion to ask party members whether they would follow the governor to any political party, was seconded, and met with a resounding positive response from the crowd.

Inos, a former GOP member, is the titular head of the Covenant Party.

With Inos rejoining GOP and the rest of the Covenant Party following him, the Republican Party is once again a formidable political party following a dismal showing in the 2012 race under former governor Benigno R. Fitial. Fitial resigned days before the start of his impeachment trial at the Senate.

Fitial left the Republican Party to form the Covenant Party to support his gubernatorial bid. He became governor on his second attempt and was re-elected. Fitial later rejoined the GOP, causing many Republicans to leave the party. Many Covenant Party members—including Inos—did not follow Fitial to the Republican Party. Some former GOP members later called themselves Independent-Republicans.

Besides Inos, other possible contender for governor in the 2014 elections is former House speaker Heinz Hofschneider.

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