AS RESIDENTS of an unincorporated territory, the people of Guam might not be able to vote in national elections, and the island’s elected delegate might not be able to cast her votes on the House floor; but in 2012, the island’s Republicans might have a meaningful say in the election of the next U.S. president.
Those who have been watching the GOP presidential debates on TV, or following the party’s nominating process in the news, will know the issue is far from settled. For a long time, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was regarded as the presumptive nominee and clear front-runner, but his support in the polls has never climbed above 23 to 25 percent. The right wing of the party has never warmed up to him, regarding him as a flop-flopper or closet moderate on core issues such as abortion, immigration, and – most of all – government mandated health care at the heart of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care for America Act.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and pizza mogul Herman Cain all took turns seeking to become the right-wing standard bearer who could mount a serious challenge to Romney, only to see their efforts fail due to missteps, gaffs and scandals.
After having his campaign declared virtually dead by most of the national pundits, however, and in spite of his two divorces and reputation for mean-spiritedness even within his own party, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has come alive in recent weeks, and now seems poised to give Romney the fight of his life. Gingrich’s strong and feisty performances in the latest debates have convinced many on the right that he is the man who could deliver a knock-out punch to Obama next November.
Still, Romney has much more money in his war chest than Gingrich, and his on-the-ground campaign organization is far stronger. The battle for the Republican nomination is far from over, and it could even go all the way to the convention in Tampa-St. Petersburg next August.
Which brings us back to Guam and the island’s Republican Party. According to thegreenpapers.com, a well-established website that provides detailed information about U.S. elections, Guam’s GOP will send nine delegates to the national convention – not a very large number out of the total of some 2,288. But in a very close race, every vote counts.
Of the nine GOP delegates, the only certain participant is Gov. Eddie Calvo. As the titular head of the Republican Party on Guam, his spot in the delegation is guaranteed. He, and Guam’s Republican National Committeeman and Committeewoman, will be going as uncommitted delegates, which means they can vote in whatever way they see fit. According to Senate Minority Leader Frank Blas Jr., the remaining delegates will be chosen at the island’s Republican Party Convention, to be held in the first quarter of 2012. Blas said the exact date and venue have not yet been selected, but noted more than 1,000 people are expected to participate – including all of the party’s leadership and any registered member of the Guam Republican Party who would like to come. A secret ballot will be held, in which the remaining delegates to the national convention will be selected.
When asked if any of the national campaigns had been active on Guam yet, Sen. Blas replied, “There have been some overtures,” including the Romney, Perry and Gingrich camps, although not the candidates themselves. He added none of the campaigns have any organizations on the island. In reply to the overtures, the senator stated most comments are usually: “Okay, so what do you know about Guam?” When the Variety asked whether he had any preferences, Blas stated he was still looking at all options.
The Democratic Party of Guam will hold caucuses in every precinct on the island on May 5 in order to choose its delegates to September’s Democratic National Convention. As this will be an uncontested primary, not too much excitement is expected.