Incumbent Am. Samoa Congressman Loses Reelection Bid

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Republican Aumua Amata unseats long-serving Eni Faleomavaega

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Nov. 5, 2014) – Congressional candidate Aumua Amata was yesterday elected to serve as American Samoa’s non-voting Delegate to the U.S. House, unseating longtime incumbent, Congressman Faleomavaega Eni. She is the first woman to be elected to represent American Samoa in the U.S. Congress.

A veteran campaigner for the Delegate seat, Amata, a declared Republican, now joins the majority GOP controlled U.S. House and the U.S. Senate following yesterday’s mid-term elections across the United States.

In yesterday’s election, Amata’s lead began with results from the polling stations in Manu’a, followed by the absentee ballots — which included local and off island ballots as well as Swains Islander voters, whose ballots were counted at the Election Office. Amata has dominated the Manu’a polls in the past several elections.

Of the 45 polling stations — including the Election Office — Amata won in 33 of the polling stations and tied with Faleomavaega at one polling station.

Total votes counted in the Delegate race stand at 10,246 with Amata getting 4306 (42%); Faleomavaega 31571 (30.8%); Togiola Tulafono 1,130 (11%); Mapu J. Jamias 652 6.47%); Meleagi Suitonu-Chapman 229 (2.2%); Tuika Tuika 201 (2%); Rosie Fualaau Tago Lancaster 268 (2.6%); Mark Ude 143 (1.4%); and Tua’au Kereti Matautia Jr. 160 (1.6%).

Amata was at her campaign center at Pulu’s guest fale in Pago Pago when the results were read out, but declined to comment at this time when asked by a Samoa News reporter at the scene.

A prayer was offered and Pulu delivered a brief speech to the gathering of supporters, friends and family members. He expressed sincere appreciation to the community for their support and to the committee for their hard work.

Pulu advised Amata to be humble as people come to congratulate her and for her to express thanks to the community, including other candidates especially, Faleomavaega who has served in Congress for many years.

He then told the gathering that Amata would not be making a speech or offering comments last night — but the right time will come for that.

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni offered his congratulations to Amata "for a hard fought campaign and the people and voters of American Samoa have spoken. This is what democracy is all about and I respect the decision made by our voters."

"I will offer my assistance and help in any way to Amata in Washington D.C.," Faleomavaega told Samoa News before 11p.m. last night. "Again, I congratulate Amata as she did an excellent job in her campaign in the issues she offered and discussed."

In the brief phone interview, he said, "I have the utmost respect for her and that she has been given the opportunity to serve in Congress."

Amata is the National Committee woman of the Republican Party from American Samoa and has served in the Republican National Committee in many different capacities, as well as being a member of the RNC Rules Committee and on the RNC Chairman’s Executive Council.

She has attended numerous Republican National Conventions as a delegate and has served as the RNC Staff Liaison to Governors, Assistant Sergeant of Arms, as a member of the Committee on Rules and Order of Business, on the Committee on Arrangements, and as the Assistant Secretary.

Currently, Amata is a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. She has been very active in the political arena and in her community. She has earned several awards including the 60 Plus Association’s Honorary Guardian of Seniors Rights Award, the International Leadership Foundation’s Visionary Award, and the National Association of Professional Asian-American Women’s Outstanding Woman of the Year Award.

Aumua Amata is the daughter of former Gov. Peter Tali Coleman and Nora Kawailiula Coleman. The former governor was the first popularly elected governor of the territory, from 1978 to 1985, and was also the first person of Samoan descent to be appointed as Governor of American Samoa. She is married to Fred Radewagen.

Faleomavaega, first elected to the U.S. House in 1987, was seeking his 14th consecutive two-year term; but his health has been a major concern by local residents after he was medivaced to Honolulu in October of last year, from complications, which he said was due to exposure to ‘Agent Orange’ while serving in the Vietnam war.

Meanwhile, a Mississippi politician who wants American Samoa and other territories to gain statehood in order to have, among other things, "full representation" in the U.S. Congress, has lost his bid for a seat in the Senate.

Shawn O’Hara running a low-budget campaign as a Reform Party candidate along with Democratic candidate Travis Childers lost to Republican Thad Cochran, won a seventh term to the U.S. Senate.

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