Guam Republican Delegate Hopeful Challenges Opponent To Debate

Camacho dismisses Metcalfe’s request; cites ‘tradition’ of not debating candidates from same party

By Shawn Raymundo

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News,August 15, 2016) – Guam Republican delegate hopeful Margaret Metcalfe on Monday continued to challenge her Republican opponent, former Gov. Felix Camacho, to a debate before this month’s Primary Election.

Camacho, a two-term governor and four-term Guam senator, has said it’s been his long-standing practice not to debate fellow GOP members before a primary race, believing inner-party debates are unnecessary.

“Our policy and position on debating is a closed issue,” Jerry Crisostomo, Camacho’s campaign chairman, said Monday.

“We will gladly debate our Democratic opponent should Gov. Camacho succeed to the General Election,” Crisostomo later wrote in an email.

Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo, a Democrat, is seeking her eighth consecutive term. She's currently facing former Assistant Secretary of the Interior Tony Babauta for the Democratic nomination in the upcoming Primary Election.

Babauta recently challenged Bordallo to a debate, but Bordallo also declined, saying she does not debate members of her own party.

The island’s voters, Metcalfe stated, deserve to hear from both Republican candidates so they can make an informed decision before heading to the polls. To give voters that opportunity, Metcalfe, who is Gov. Eddie Calvo’s liaison to his Washington, D.C., office, renewed her call for a debate.

“We all deserve better. We deserve to know who are candidates are. We deserve to know where they stand on the issues. We deserve to have our questions answered,” Metcalfe said during a press conference at Java Junction in Hagåtña.

“(Voters) have choices to make this Aug. 27,” she added. “We owe it to them to get them as much information and provide them with as much as we can to make that decision easier for them.”

Camacho recently said he’d let his public service record speak for his qualifications to hold Congressional office.

The Camacho camp on Monday further noted that part of its campaign has involved canvassing villages and passing out brochures to explain Camacho’s platform and position on federal issues like energy, national security, health care and federal funding.

“As a member of U.S. House of Representatives, Felix will work to advance policies designed to encourage economic growth and job creation in Guam and the territories, restore accountability and transparency in the federal government and ensure that the tax dollars that come from Washington, D.C., are spent more wisely, efficiently and effectively,” the brochure states.

Metcalfe said she is critical of that approach, stating candidates can’t convince voters they’re capable of the job simply by having them, “hear the stories and the struggles.” She said Camacho may actually have positive ideas, but the public won’t know about them unless he holds a debate.

Metcalfe said she’s open to anything and everything that will help her reach out to voters, such has holding her own public forum. If Camacho won't debate, Metcalfe said, she will visit Guam’s villages and meet with their leaders at various events.

“I will seek other areas of meeting with the village leaders, going from village to village, going to different events, offering to answer any questions and all questions that come my way,” she said.

In her initial letter last week, challenging Camacho to a debate, Metcalfe said voters should hear them talk about his eight years in Adelup and her short time at the D.C. office as it relates to the job of delegate.

Reiterating a recent statement from Esther Kia'aina, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Metcalfe said federal lawmakers are “a newer and younger breed” who aren’t aware of Guam’s issues, let alone “who we are, where we are and how important we are to the balance of power and peace to the Western Pacific.”

“I’ve done a lot more in six months I think than people have done in 14 years,” Metcalfe said about her work in Washington.

Employees at the governor's office have been helping Metcalfe issue public statements related to her campaign.

Metcalfe said Calvo, who is head of the island's Republican Party, hasn’t endorsed either candidate for the delegate seat. "I do know that we see a lot of things on the same side of the issues," she said.

Pacific Daily News
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