Congressional candidate Robert Underwood waves to motorists in Yigo. Facebook photo
Guam voters go back to the polls today for a runoff election that will settle the congressional race between two Democrats -- Delegate Michael San Nicolas and former congressman Robert Underwood.
The candidate who wins the majority vote (50 percent plus one) wins the hotly contested seat-- a nonvoting position in the U.S. Congress.
Although he led the Nov. 3 election, San Nicolas obtained only 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, hence the runoff election.
Shortly after the election, San Nicolas asked Underwood to concede, but the former congressman declined to give up the race, noting that 54 percent of the voters did not support the incumbent delegate.
San Nicolas garnered 13,000 votes, while Underwood received 9,300 votes (32.87 percent). Republican candidate Wil Castro ranked third with 5,942 votes (21 percent). The Republican votes are therefore up for grabs.
Stepping aside from the race after Nov. 3, Castro has endorsed Underwood.
San Nicolas and Underwood found themselves in a three-way race with Castro due to the cancellation of the Aug. 29 primary.
Today, voters are choosing between two contrasting personalities-- one is more veteran on the campaign trail, accustomed to the traditions of politics and personal engagement with voters; the other is a young aloof politician, whose millenial-esque approach involves more social media engagements.
Without an official endorsement from the Democratic Party of Guam, Underwood and San Nicolas were left on their own campaigns. No official debate ever took place between the two due to San Nicolas' consistent refusal to face his challenger.
“Democrats recognize that both congressional candidates running under the Democratic Party’s banner will represent another election victory for not only Guam Democrats but Democrats throughout our nation as we have seen with the recent U,S. elections," Democratic Party chairperson Sarah Thomas Nededog said in an earlier statement.
"Indeed, there are stark differences between these two congressional candidates, so we are encouraging the Guam voters to vote for a congressional candidate who can best represent Guam in Congress,” she added.
Underwood, 72, served in Congress from 1993 to 2003. Before going back to politics, he served as president of the University of Guam from 2008 to 2018.
San Nicolas, 39, is serving his first term as Guam's representative to Congress. His term was marred by an ethics investigation and occassional conflicts with local Democratic leaders. He served three terms in the Guam Legislature from 2013 to 2019.
While not endorsing either candidate, the Republican Party of Guam urged voters to participate in the runoff elections.
"The Republican Party of Guam looks forward to working with the individual who emerges victorious on November 17, and passionately believes in developing a partnership which would benefit the community of Guam in general. With this pandemic, now more than ever this is a critical component in our governance," the party said in a statement earlier.
Maria Pangelinan told K57’s Patti Arroyo Monday that so far, more than 5,000 people have already cast their ballots since the beginning of early voting.