by Ken Quintanilla
Guam - It's been two weeks since the Democratic Party of Guam nominated former Governor Carl T.C. Gutierrez and Sen. Frank Aguon, Jr. as its' gubernatorial team for this year's election. That nomination however became moot after Sen. Aguon declined it less than 24 hours after it was made. During Thursday evening's meeting of the party's Central Executive Committee discussion continued on the party's gubernatorial ticket.
Party Chairperson Sen. Rory Respicio noted during the meeting that while Gutierrez has expressed a strong desire to run for Governor, at this point, he has yet to decide on a running mate. In seeking guidance from the CEC, a motion was initially made that should Gutierrez not make up his mind on whether he would run, that the party has to move on.
Several CEC members like former Sen. Mark Charfauros expressed his support saying "to run for Governor is extremely difficult. We're not late, we're extremely late."
On the matter of announcing one's candidacy. Kin Perez said that former Governor Ricky Bordallo actually hadn't announced his run until the month of April during the election years of 1978 and 1982. "I don't like this issue of putting a gun to his head saying you have until February 5th to make up your mind," Perez said. "If you told Carl you have until Feb. 5th to make up your mind, Carl would tell all of you to shove it." Respicio refuted that statement saying the party was not doing that.
Other members of the CEC meanwhile called the idea "offensive" and suggested the party also focus on recruiting candidates to run for senator. It was mentioned that some people in the Guam Legislature have actually indicated they would not run anymore. During Thursday night's meeting it was shared that former Senators Adolpho Palacios and Judi Gutherz had expressed their desire to run for the Guam Legislature along with Robert Paulino.
Vice Speaker BJ Cruz meanwhile questioned whether in the last 30 years, had the CEC ever told a candidate they have until a certain date to declare their candidacy. He called such action "inappropriate."
While Respicio mentioned that in the last year and half, Gutierrez had been telling people he's running for Governor, Former party Executive Director Carlo Branch said the CEC has never actually publicly received a statement from Gutierrez saying that he would run nor has the former Governor announced anything officially to the media.
The Vice Speaker questioned why it even had to be Gutierrez or just one particular candidate. "There have been other people in this room who have shown interest and you all know who you are," Cruz said. "Don't just single out Carl, there have been many of you who have spoken saying you want to be Governor."
Sen. Tom Ada responded that while there have been other interested candidates, when they got wind that Gutierrez wanted to run it may have changed their minds. "There's certain dynamics and those prospective teams backed off for whatever reason," Ada said.
The motion was eventually amended to read that the "Central Executive Committee of the Democratic Party of Guam is putting out an appeal to anyone who is interested in running as Governor to please state your intention and make it very clear by February 5." From there the CEC would determine the next steps on its meeting the following day on February 6th. The motion passed but the vote was not unanimous. Respicio stated that the party would eventually support whatever democratic team makes it after the primary election.
Following the motion, party Vice-Chairwoman Nerissa Underwood stated the absence of an official candidate for the gubernatorial race isn't a matter only before the CEC but out in the community. "We do get the question asked of us," Underwood said. "It's somewhat demoralizing for us fellow democrats when they see everyday there is news about what the other party is doing and they're already out there in the villages and to this date, they're asking us: do you have a candidate?" She went on to say "so that was the basis of this, to give us a sense of direction of where we're going."