The Progressive Democrats of Guam (PDG) has released its 2020 Candidate Guide, which identified the seven "most progressive" senatorial candidates based on their positions on key issues including universal health care, minimum wage and business privilege tax among others.
The seven most progressive candidates, according to PDG’s evaluation, are Chris Carillo and incumbent senators Clynt Ridgell, Tina Muña Barnes, Joe San Agustin, Sabina Perez, Kelly Marsh (Taitano) and Amanda Shelton. They are all Democrats.
Besides their responses to a survey, the incumbent senators' rankings were also based on evaluation of their public statements and actions in office.
Most Republicans skipped the survey. Those who responded were Sen. Mary Torres, Ken Leon Guerrero and Michelle Armenta
“Our survey evaluation committee has chosen to highlight the top seven candidates whose positions on the topics of this year’s PDG survey are most consistent with progressive values,” said Julian Janssen, PDG’s chapter leader.
“We want to encourage every progressive to stand up, take action, and vote in this election,” said Janssen. “We believe that our evaluation of candidates provides useful information for progressives to make more informed choices and we hope they will consider the information we have presented.”
The PDG survey used for the 2020 Candidate Guide addresses issues PDG believes are important to the people of Guam, including: unemployment insurance; layoffs caused by slashing the business privilege tax, providing additional compensation for essential workers, providing PPE for workers, advancing healthcare for all and enhancing enforcement of environmental protection laws.
"First, we believe that the people of Guam deserve to know where senatorial candidates stand on important progressive issues. Second, we want to promote the due consideration of progressive priorities by current and prospective political leaders. Third, we want to provide an opportunity for the public to learn more about important progressive issues," Jansen stated in the cover letter.
PDG premised that "cutting BPT by 1 percent would result in $61 million in lost revenue, requiring layoffs of 600-1,200 GovGuam workers."
The candidates were asked, "Will you vote to cut BPT by 1 percent, causing massive layoffs of GovGuam workers, considering that only businesses with over $500,000 in revenue would financially benefit?"
The candidates were also asked about their position on unemployment programs, which PDG stated would provide an opportunity to borrow from the U.S. Department of Labor to cover benefits when local funds are insufficient. "Will you vote in favor of establishing a permanent unemployment insurance program to replace the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, set to expire in December?" the question read.
PDG said it reached out to candidates of both major political parties for their views on progressive issues. Only three Republican candidates responded.
The Republican Party of Guam earlier issued a statement slamming the PDG's tax endorsements.
"It is unfortunate that at a time when our economy is in a complete panic and over 35,000 island residents are out of jobs, that these Democrats are advocating for new taxes and costs for small businesses," the Republican Party said.
"Here is a simple business theory for this group of progressives who apparently have never managed a business operation: governments around the world are providing incentives to resuscitate dying economies because they want to revive businesses and not chase them away, or worse, close them down permanently."
The Republican Party said creating a business-friendly environment would allow entities to prosper, create more jobs and build a consistent tax base.
"These Democrats are scaring government of Guam employees with a conspiracy theory that reducing the BPT will result in their job losses. What they fail to share is that because the BPT was increased, the government experienced a surplus in FY 2019. They also do not want to tell you that the only things which will be impacted by reducing the BPT will be jobs and contracts for the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio administration’s political supporters."
According to PDG's website, the group was organized following the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
""Most of the early members were actively involved in the local movement on Guam to support Bernie Sanders becoming the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States," the website reads. "We seek to build a party and government which is controlled by the people and serves all the people, not just the few."
(Correction: The earlier version of this story stated that the Republicans skipped the survey. Our apologies.)