by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Carl Gutierrez is back in the political game - no longer in the running for the public auditor position, but as a Democrat wanting to lead his party to victory in November. "I want to go ahead as a de facto Democrat leader," he told KUAM News on Friday.
Saying he's no Michael Jordan (in regards to central executive committee chairman Carlo Branch's assertion that an election without him for the Democrats would be like the Chicago Bulls without the Hall of Fame basketball player), the former governor hopes to energize the party as he knows that a Democratic victory in November won't be an easy slam dunk. "That's going too far - c'mon," he stated. "There's nobody else that wants to do the hard work of what I'm wanting to do out there and drum out the supporters to come out and barbeque or whatever it needs to be done. Nobody's willing to do that right now. Everybody's on their own for the Democrats."
Gutierrez says he wasn't scared to run against Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks, clarifying that there's too much at stake, both locally and nationally, for him to sit on the bench and run in a non-partisan race. "I've never been shy to get into a political fight. I've lost a heck of a lot and I've only learned from that," he explained.
This morning he stepped down at the request of the Branch and Democratic Party of Guam members. With 44% voter turnout during the primary and voter apathy, Gutierrez has learned not to take any chances saying too much is at stake, noting, "I want to make sure that I can help the senators maintain and increase the majority if possible and the congresswoman get re-elected and the mayors and vice mayors that are democrats get elected or re-elected."
"Our foes are very formidable and we don't want to let our guards down."
Republican Party of Guam chair Mike Benito says he isn't surprised by the former governor's decision, saying, "I think he knew that he probably wasn't going to beat Doris Brooks. That probably weighed heavily on his decision. For us, we welcome him back."
While Gutierrez looks to energize Democrats, Benito says republicans already have a good momentum going into the general, as they've been canvassing for months. "I think that people are seeing that there is a real call for change," he told KUAM News, "A fresh change. You see, the Democratic leadership drop off in their percentage of votes; I think the voters are kind of tired of their rhetoric and empty promises."
While he accepted the call to step down, Gutierrez has asked Democrat senators to reinstate the two-term limit for public auditor, saying the change was slipped into the 2006 budget. "It was politics that got it extended, and so if you can do that I think that's the intent: to keep people in there like the governors for two terms - let somebody else get in there so you don't politicize the office to the extent where you build a dynasty," said Gutierrez.
Benito added, "The voters are the real deciders of term limits. If the voters are happy with what you're doing, then they're going to keep you in."
And despite what Democrats may believe, Benito says the GOP isn't buying the election, saying, "The only way we're going to be able to win this election, which is what we're doing now, we're going to work hard. We're going to meet as many people as we can. We're going to spread our message."
It's the same thing Gutierrez intends to do. He stated, "The bigger picture is that we circle the wagon and protect the livelihood on Guam and the Democrats do that well."
Gutierrez has requested that Democrat candidates come together at his home on October 4 to begin discussing their game plan. As for future political aspirations, Gutierrez only said, "We'll see what happens. There are no plans at this point except to help the party right now."