‘It ain’t over till it’s over’
Losing by a razor-thin margin can be cause for a politician’s regret. But for Sen. Frank Aguon, a difference of 254 votes is a reason not to give up. He’s inclined to place a bet on the political lottery, supposing he could split the Democrats and hoping he could sway votes from Republicans who may have been put off by Ray Tenorio’s infamous gun-grabbing stunt.
And then, there’s his cheerleading squad — the Guam Citizens for Public Accountability and the Guamanians for Fair Government. Following the Guam Election Commission’s certification of the Aug, 25 primary results, the two political action groups have launched a write-in campaign for Aguon and his running mate Alicia Limtiaco, who narrowly lost to Lou Leon Guerrero-Josh Tenorio team at the primary.
After holding a machine recount requested by the Aguon-Limtiaco ticket, GEC finally declared the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio team the official winners in the Democratic Party’s four-way race in the primary. Former Carl Gutierrez and Sen. Dennis Rodriguez have since conceded, abiding by the party’s Unity Pledge.
“The overwhelming theme of what we're fighting for is for change and for trust in our government and to protect our future," Leon Guerrero told a press conference.
Leon Guerrero and Tenorio are advancing to the Nov. 6 general elections to face off their Republican opponents, Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio and Tony Ada.
"We look forward to a spirited campaign and discussion on the real challenges facing our island, as well as transformational solutions in the remaining weeks," said Tenorio, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary.
But with the Republican Party carrying the “Anybody But Tenorio” cross, political pundits predict this could be the Democratic Party’s chance to take back Adelup.
Seeking to solidify its efforts to become Guam’s ruling party, the Democratic leaders have asked the Aguon-Limtiaco team to “denounce” the GCPA and GFG’s write-in endorsement. The Aguon-Limiaco team has not responded to the party’s appeal.
In a follow-up statement issued Oct.5, the Democratic Party expressed resentment over the prodigal team’s unabating refusal to concede.
“We know that Sen. Aguon and Attorney Limtiaco have had a hard time accepting that fact,” the party’s leader said in a statement. “But it's wrong for the same small group of People who attacked Senator Rodriguez, Governor Gutierrez, Sens. Lou Leon Guerrero, Josh Tenorio, and others in our primary are now using this loss to divide our people's choice.”
Aguon earlier said his team was “bombarded by pleas from a broad range of people in our community, anxious business owners, disgruntled Republicans, unsettled supporters from other camps, and concerned citizens of all ages. They want us to continue the fight.”
Responding to critics’ accusation that he was deflecting from the Democratic Party’s Unity Pledge, Aguon argued, “I don’t recall any part of the pledge that says it is more important than the people. I think using that excuse to deny the people and voters of Guam a lawful choice in their election is wrong.”
GCPA and GFG characterize their campaign as a rebellion against the “political elite” and a protest against “policies that have resulted in higher cost of living on Guam.”
“The primary election process has been taken over by the political parties, to the extent that the only choices we have to select from as voters are those that successfully negotiate the political party process,” they said in a joint press statement.
Write-in candidacy is almost a quixotic endeavor, having shown no record of success in the history of Guam elections. And without adequate financial resources to support a write-in campaign, the Aguon-Limtiaco team is straddling to fight the Leon-Guerrero-Tenorio team’s well-funded machinery and more stable support group.
Leon Guerrero, president of the Bank of Guam, spent over a million on her primary election campaign, which Aguon noted is “a record-breaking amount of money spent just to win the primary election.”
If the Tenorio-Ada team remains a force to be reckoned with, then Aguon is indeed a little David fighting two Goliaths.
On Nov. 6 elections, the political strength — if any — and grassroots influence of GCPA and GFG will be defined.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party stressed that it “solidly stands behind all Democratic candidates who qualified in our past primary race and respect the collective decision of all of Guam's voters in choosing the Democratic gubernatorial team of former Senator Lou Leon Guerrero and Josh Tenorio, the 15 Democratic senatorial candidates and Sen. Michael San Nicolas, as the Democratic nominee for Guam's delegate to U.S. Congress.”
(A version of this story was published in the print edition of our October 2018 issue)