by Mindy Aguon
Guam - As we all know, there's never a dull moment in island politics. And Guam's Democratic Party is appealing to former governor Carl Gutierrez, wanting their MVP to return to the team.
"Without Carl Gutierrez is like being the Chicago Bulls without Michael Jordan," boldly stated Carlo Branch, executive director of the Democratic Party of Guam. Gutierrez, who stepped down as party chair to run in the non-partisan public auditor race, is on the November ballot to go head-to-head against longtime incumbent Doris Flores Brooks. According to Branch, they want Gutierrez to back out and get back into the ring to lace-up against the Republicans. "There's no better fighter for middle class working families than Carl Gutierrez in an election year," he said.
Evidently the Democrats believe Gutierrez has the powerful punch needed to knock out the Republicans in November, and according to branch the GOP's platform and the governor's spending cuts bill, could be devastating for the island's working class. "As an example, the governor's proposed bill on cuts would significantly cut maternity leave, would end leave sharing, would cancel out personal leave for teachers and essentially would implement a rule that says if you're on leave without pay or on sick leave for a greater than a certain period of time then you lose your job," he said.
The Democrats, in a letter dated September 12 and signed by acting party chairperson Gloria Nelson, Speaker Judi Won Pat, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, Legislative Secretary Tina Rose Muna Barnes and Majority Leader Rory Respicio, say they need Gutierrez now more than ever. "There's no telling what Carl Gutierrez will do," said Respicio, "but for those of us who know him, I know Governor Gutierrez is not afraid of a fight, but he just has to reconcile in his mind that the bigger fight is helping Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo remain in congress. The bigger fight is retaining a Democratic majority in the Legislature, and the biggest fight is helping all the mayor and vice-mayor candidates running under our Democratic banner and that's what's at stake."
So will heavy hitter return? Gutierrez was not available for comment, but we have confirmed that just today a representative from his campaign filed his police and court clearances as well as a financial disclosure report with the Guam Election Commission, a day after the Democrats sent their letter.
Said Branch, "He did tell me that he was going to take at least the weekend to talk to family and supporters."
As for reaction from the Republicans, party chairman Mike Benito suspects the Democrats are asking Gutierrez to withdraw his candidacy because they probably saw the numbers and realized he was not going to beat brooks in the General Election. Benito added the Republican Party is the true party of the people and are the ones who fought for tax refunds. He went on to say there's been a number of Democratic leaders who fought against the tax refunds.
And in regards to the governor's spending cuts bill, he says, "We obviously need to make these tough decisions and one of the things the Republican administration and senators are trying to do is be fiscally responsible and live within our means."
Meanwhile according to the governor's director of communications Troy Torres he reacts to Branch's statement on the governor's spending bill, saying , "That's a tired shame that the Democratic Party is falsely saying these things. the governor's bill does not cut maternity leave, it does not end leave sharing and it does not cancel personal leave for teachers. He added the Democrats need to read that bill a little more closely. Torres went on to stay say that "if there is anyone who has been against the working families of Guam it would be the democrat senators who were opposed to paying their tax refunds."
Gutierrez says he owes it to the Democrats and the people of Guam to consider the request. This evening he plans to meet with various individuals including those who asked him to run for the Office of Public Auditor to discuss the possibility of stepping out of the race. Gutierrez says he intends to make a decision by Friday afternoon.