Later this month there will be a Republican Gubernatorial primary between Heinz Hofsneider and Juan Babauta. The winner will get the Republican nomination and will go on to face the Covenant Party nominee and two independent candidates (so far). Time for some more commentary from the Saipan Blogger.
Republicans hold an open primary, so any registered voter, even voters such as myself who have a donkey tattooed on their ass, can vote. The Covenant Party nominee and one of the Independent candidates have asked their supporters not to vote in this primary, but as the founder of the CNMI Jedi Party and the leading voice for the people of the CNMI that live in my apartment, I say, go ahead and Barack the Vote!
The winner of this primary has a very good chance of going on to be our next governor, so I recommend you educate yourself on the candidates and their issues and make a rational decision on who is best.
Then vote for the guy that promised to give you a job!
The social fabric of the Commonwealth is changing and as years progress we will vote less along family lines and hopefully more along party/idealistic lines. This is not just because Chamorros and Carolinians are becoming more sophisticated in their voting behaviors, but also because the number and percentage of non-indigenous voters increases every year. They are beginning to make up their own "family" of voters and have their own sets of concerns and issues. Then there are also the hundreds, if not thousands, of voters that have one foot firmly planted in two different worlds. I'm an Irish Chamorro American Environmentalist. The old ways just don't cut it for people such as myself.
So back to the Republican Primary.
Juan Babauta is running with Galvin Guerrero and Heinz Hofschneider is running with Arnold Palacios.
Juan Babauta is the immediate past governor. Before that he was the Washington Representative for about a decade. Galvin Guerrero is on the Board of Education and is the principal of Mt. Carmel School (although he's resigned to run for office). Heinz Hofschneider and Arnold Palacios are both in the House of Representatives. Palacios is the current Speaker and Hofschneider is a former Speaker.
In the last election, while Babauta was still governor and up for reelection, Hofschneider decided he wanted to run for governor, too. Babauta wasn't having it and convinced the Republican Party to nominate him as their candidate without a primary. Hofschneider didn't let that stop him and ran as an Independent candidate. Both men ended up losing to Benigno Fitial, who won with about 28% of the vote in a four-way race. Hofsneider was only 99 votes (thus 50 voters) behind Fitial and Babauta was about another 100 votes behind Hofschneider. I have often heard the sentiment expressed that Fitial only won because the Republican Party was split (the fourth candidate in 2005, Froilan Tenorio, was a distant fourth-place vote getter).
That brings us to 2009. This year there is going to be a primary and each of the Republican candidates have pledged to bow out of the race should they lose, thus "guaranteeing" a unified Republican Party going into the regular election (that's if there is such a thing as a unified political party in the Marianas).
That's unless of course former Democrat-turned-Independent Juan Pan Guerrero's Republican-but-soon-to-be Independent Lt. Governor Joe Camacho pulls a lot of Republican support...but I'll leave that for another post.
So anyway, I have not made a decision as to who I am supporting in the Republican Primary, but I recommend that you look up both candidates and find out as much about them as you possibly can.
Juan and Galvin have a website, a Facebook profile, and a Myspace. Their platform is listed on their website. I was surprised (but not really) to find that one of their campaign promises is to "Seek federal funding to augment local environmental initiatives, such as Beautify CNMI."
Hey, that's me! I didn't ask them to get federal funding for Beautify CNMI, but I'll surely accept it.
Heinz and Arnold have a campaign website at http://heinzarnold2009.com/
They have printed material, though. One of my cousins gave me a full color 12-page breakdown of their platform. They don't mention Beautify CNMI by name, but on the second to last page they promise that "a summer corp program will employ individuals dedicated to tree planting, forestry and landscaping in keeping with plans to beautify our islands, advancing beautification efforts while providing an education on what it means to have a clean and healthy environment."
They also make a promise in "developing new parks, underwater conservation zones, and new forest areas."
When it comes to the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, Juan and Galvin say that we must "Capitalize on all opportunities to make the most of the newly established Marianas Trench Marine Monument." Heinz and Arnold kick it up a notch with "It is due time to take advantage of the world's focus on the biodiversity and unique beautify of the Marianas Monument. We will take the lead to develop a visitor market niche and funding for a research institute."
That's a good start. I'll post on any upcoming events should I hear of them.