PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
GUAM SENATOR BLAS TO CHALLENGE DELEGATE BORDALLO
By Arvin Temkar
In an official announcement at Chamorro Village yesterday afternoon, Blas, the Republican minority leader in the Legislature, said he intends to be Guam's voice.
Blas said if chosen delegate, he will work to increase economic opportunity, investigate the impact of the compacts of free association and how "Obamacare" will affect the island's health-care industry.
One of the reasons he chose Chamorro Village to make his announcement is because it represents an economic, as well as cultural, force in the community, he said.
Blas said he wouldn't be afraid to deviate from party lines. Because the Guam delegate isn't a voting member of Congress, establishing ties across the aisle will be vital, he said.
Blas said he'd meet with citizens to learn more about the issues ordinary people face.
The governor backed Blas in a speech, calling him a "man of the people." For now, Blas is the only Republican candidate for the delegate seat, Calvo said. The governor was uncertain whether Blas will remain unchallenged, but having another candidate jump into the race would be "problematic" for the party, he said.
[PIR editor’s note:Current delegate Madeleine Bordallo has also announced her campaign for re-election this week, saying that she believes 'tremendous progress on the issues most important to the people of Guam" have been made, and she never takes any election for granted. "As long as I am elected," Bordallo, a former lieutenant governor and first lady of Guam, says, "I will continue to uphold the people’s trust and fight for their issues in Congress."]
Both Calvo and Blas made reference to a line in a new book about the U.S. presidential family that called the island "pleasant but powerless" and Blas said it's high time Guam puts an end to that reputation.
"We're not going to be powerless," Calvo said. "We're going to have a voice, a fighter for our people."
Blas' candidacy isn't the only big thing for Guam's Republican Party this year. The Guam Republican party will be able to vote for the presidential nominee in the Republican National Convention this summer, said Calvo.
Earlier this month, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum joked that some liberal-leaning judges should be sent to Guam, so they could be replaced by judges with more conservative views. Calvo said the party will take Santorum's comments, along with comments by other candidates, into consideration when voting.
Blas has served three terms in the Guam Legislature, according to a statement from his campaign. He was the island's first Homeland Security adviser, serving from 2003 to 2006.
Blas is a former policeman and son of former Lt. Gov. Frank Blas.
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