Angel vs Kilili in delegate race

REPRESENTATIVE Angel Demapan on Wednesday announced his intention to run as the Republican Party candidate against incumbent U.S. Congressman Gregorio Camacho Kilili Sablan who caucuses with U.S. Democrats.

Demapan, 35, declared his candidacy in the Napu Room of PIC which was jam-packed with his supporters and friends, including Senate President Arnold Palacios, Speaker Ralph Demapan and Sen. Sixto Igisomar.

Gov. Ralph Torres, who was not able to attend the press conference because he was sick, told Variety over the phone that he has faith in Rep. Angel Demapan and his leadership.

“I will be happy to endorse him if the party’s board decides to accept him as the official candidate of the party for the delegate’s position,” the governor said.

“I believe in Angel, and I’ve seen him work with the other members so I have faith in his leadership. It would be a great advantage for us if we have a Republican delegate in Washington D.C. There is a great opportunity that our concerns will be heard. It would be an advantage for me also if the delegate is a Republican because we will be on the same page and it would be easy for both of us to work on CNMI issues.”

In his remarks, Demapan said his decision to run for delegate was triggered by federal policy decisions affecting the growth of the CNMI economy.

“Under Republican leadership in the CNMI, we have seen our economy grow exponentially — creating more jobs and generating more revenues. However, our successes are often threatened by federal overreach and policy decisions that are detrimental to island communities like ours.”

Sablan, 62, was first elected as the CNMI’s delegate to Congress in 2008 and was re-elected in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 when he ran unopposed.

Demapan said, “We need to reclaim our place at the table and forge a balanced partnership between the United States and our government. We need to be proud of ourselves and our islands, and stand up to big America so that our voices can be heard.”

Demapan said the CNMI is at a very critical juncture. “Our thriving economy and, moreover, our future, are being threatened. At a time of significant economic development, the commonwealth is experiencing major labor shortages and a contract worker program that is scheduled to end in 2019. All the while, so much energy from Washington is focused on reducing the workforce, but not on providing any federal resources to enable employers to train and build their capacity of U.S. citizen workers. We need to do more about this than just focusing on reducing the labor pool and making it nearly impossible for construction companies to have any workers. We need to be a partner in this cause.”

Nationwide, he said, “we have a Republican majority and in the CNMI we have the same thing, a Republican majority, but there’s one seat remaining that we need to ‘Republicanize’ and we intend to do that,” he said as the crowd in the Napu Room laughed and applauded.

“The important thing of being a Republican member of the U.S. Congress is to be able to work with the Republican majority in the Republican White House. The opportunities to bring back benefits to the CNMI are greater and we are seeing it today with our Republican delegate from American Samoa. So this is just one possible example of a partnership that can exist in Washington. We believe that as a Republican member of the U.S. Congress, we could harness all those successes that have been happening in American Samoa and also work together with the American Samoa congresswoman,” he said, referring to Aumua Amata.

“You have seen what we can do working together in the Legislature. Now let’s do the same in the halls of the U.S. Congress. I will fight for you, not for credit. And with you, the people, by my side, we will be united in our battle to protect our culture while growing our economy. I will fight for policies that protect families, provide more job opportunities, improve our healthcare system, and give our children the education they deserve! I will be your loyal voice in Washington, and not Washington’s voice. I believe in our commonwealth, but above all, I believe in you.”

Demapan said his track record in the CNMI House of Representatives, having served two terms, speak for his capability and ability to represent the islands in the U.S. Congress. He doesn’t believe that being young is a disadvantage.

“I don’t think that’s an issue here. We are in an era where our governor is the youngest in commonwealth history, and the youngest member of the U.S. Congress is in his 20s so I don’t think that’s an issue. What the people are looking for now is a public servant who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty. I am ready, I am determined and I am committed.”

Senate President Arnold Palacios, in an interview, said he and the rest of the CNMI Republicans “are here to support and help Angel.”

He added, “He needs to work hard to win the hearts and minds of the people. He must stick to the issues and give it all he got. We will work hard also for him and support him all the way.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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