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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Guam Voters Unenthusiastic About This Year’s Election
Governor’s race considered to be a foregone conclusion

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, March 25, 2014) – The gubernatorial race, held every four years, is historically a crowd-drawer that guarantees a voter turnout higher than the usual average during midterm elections. But the seeming lack of fervor on the part of the Democratic Party to put up a strong fight to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Eddie Calvo appears to prelude a humdrum election campaign this year.

With no formidable gubernatorial team emerging from the Democratic camp, many predict that Calvo and Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio are poised to coast to an easy second-term victory.

The absence of a real contest for the top executive posts douses the excitement of some voters.

"Here in Guam, we love politics because of the surprises it offers. But this year, it will totally be predictable. We already know what the political scene will look like and we know who is going to win. Calvo is likely to win this race by default," said Meilou Milligan, of Tamuning. "I hope (Sen.) Mike San Nicolas is still considering running. It's always better to have more choices."

The deadline for filing candidacy for the August primary is July 1, yet the Democratic Party is still in the musing phase, while the Republican Party's political machinery has been up and running.

The Democratic Party's most prominent figures, former Gov. Carl Gutierrez and University of Guam President and former Congressman Robert Underwood, are in silent mode.

Sen. Michael San Nicolas has sent out feelers, indicating his willingness to fill the void. But his gesture has been pretty much shrugged off by the party.

At least two Democrats – cultural scholar Jonathan Diaz and Guam Community College Professor Barry Mead – have picked up packets from the Guam Election Commission for the governor's race, but no announcement from either of them has been made.

Sen. Rory Respicio, chairman of the Guam Democratic Party, said the party has continued holding the "listening tour meetings," which he described as "a huge success."

"During the meetings, we are sharing with residents the history of the party and how we are committed to healing decades of hurt among party faith," Respicio said. "We are doing this by being very public about our internal and external situation, and by showing deference to all of our party's political giants."

He claimed a couple of people have expressed interest in running for governor and lieutenant governor, but the party has yet to make a decision.

"We are proceeding down this grassroots process to listen to our people in their homes as they express their concerns about the real state of our island," Respicio said.

"Since it is not prudent to wait until the filing deadline of July 1, the party has decided to move forward in this manner, so that all Democrats, disaffected Republicans, and independents can see that they are not being left behind," he added.

Voters expect the Democratic Party to come up with a gubernatorial team eventually.

But what are the chances of victory for the Johnnies-come-lately?

"It's too late for the Democratic Party to bring a huge crowd of supporters for fundraisers and to put up a good campaign. The primary election is coming too close and spending on a late campaign will just be a waste of time and money," said Roy Adonay, of Mangilao.

"This is going to be virtually an uncontested gubernatorial election. And since we have been receiving our tax refunds, how can the incumbent governor lose?" said Adonay, who described himself as an independent voter.

While he is contented with the incumbent governor, Adonay said he is still hoping to see a real contest, where candidates can debate a variety of issues affecting the community.

Chalan Pågo resident Michele Camacho said her decision on whom to vote for is always based on the candidates' platforms.

"I'm neither a Republican nor a Democrat. My vote always depends on what the candidate has to offer," Camacho said.

At this point, she said, "I'm satisfied with the current governor."

This year's gubernatorial race is definitely going to be "less exciting," said Tiffany Reyes, of Agana Heights.

Reyes, however, said she is still hoping a Democratic candidate for governor will spring up.

"We have a two-party system; the Democrats have to come up with someone or something and they have to. At this point, there's no real challenge to Calvo," she said.

"I'm sure Democrats have candidates, but they are not announcing it yet and if the Democratic candidate is better – even remotely better – than the incumbent governor, I will definitely vote for him. Otherwise, I will vote for a write-in candidate and his name is Mickey Mouse," Reyes said.

Janet Gogue, of Chalan Pågo, said politics never excites her.

"I'm not even a registered voter. All politicians are the same. They fail us time and time again. They never fulfill their promises," Gogue said.

This year, Gogue said she and her husband have planned to register to vote. "But only if they will put the marijuana initiative on the ballot. Otherwise, there is no point in going to the voting station. I'd rather stay home and watch reruns of 'Grey's Anatomy,'" she said.

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