• By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

San Nicolas, Underwood back on campaign trail for Nov. 17 runoff

Former congressman Robert Underwood and Delegate Michael San Nicolas will face off in a runoff vote set for Nov. 17.

(Updated)

Incumbent Delegate Michael San Nicolas and his challenger, Dr. Robert Underwood, will return to the campaign trail for a runoff vote that will settle the congressional race, albeit will split the Democratic Party.

Results of the Nov. 3 elections showed Nicolas leading the three-way race for Congress-- with 45.95 percent of the votes cast, which did not meet the majority vote (50 percent plus one) required by law to win the seat.

“If no candidate receives such majority, on the 14th day following such election a runoff election shall be held between the candidates receiving the highest and the second highest number of votes cast for the office of delegate,” the law states.

With 13,000 votes under his belt, San Nicolas extended “a sincere olive branch” to Underwood and requested the former congressman to pull back from the runoff election.

“It is not against the law for him to withdraw, and it is the right thing to do for our people,” San Nicolas posted on his Facebook page.

“Our financial and medical resources are already strained, and more importantly our Covid cases are spiking, presenting more risks to our people today than when the primary election was cancelled months ago. This is an opportunity for us to really come together for our people and put them before politics, and I humbly appeal for his consideration.”

Underwood, however, declined to concede, saying that withdrawal from a runoff election would mean ignoring “the will of 54 percent of voters who seek a new direction in leadership.”

Underwood received 9,300 votes, which accounted for 32.87 percent of the votes cast; while Republican candidate Wil Castro ranked third with 5,942 votes (21 percent).

San Nicolas and Underwood were originally scheduled to face off in the Aug. 29 Democratic primary, which, however, had been cancelled at the last minute following new restrictions prompted by new surge in Covid-19 positive cases.

As a result, all three candidates advanced to the general elections.

“Our campaign is based upon honoring the will of those we serve, and fighting for what is right,” said Underwood, who represented Guam ion Congress from 1993 to 2003.

Underwood noted that 15,293 voters or 54 percent of the total did not vote for San Nicolas. “For these reasons, if San Nicolas is unwilling to listen to his constituency, then he should reconsider whether he is qualified to represent the majority of our people in Congress,” he added.

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Castro ran unopposed on the Republican side.

“I am grateful to the people of Guam for the opportunity to have been a candidate for Congress and most deeply humbled for having received the votes of confidence, contributions and love of those who believe in our cause along the way,” he wrote in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

“I am most proud of how we conducted ourselves during this campaign. We maintained a high level of respect for all persons, worked hard and carried ourselves in a dignified manner. I remain hopeful in a brighter future for Guam with the many possibilities and new opportunities ahead of us.”

The GEC Board has declared an unprecedented runoff election in the race for Guam’s representative to Congress.

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