After nearly 30 years, Guam voters pick a Republican for congressional seat
Updated: Nov 9, 2022
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Sen. James Moylan cliched the Guam delegate seat and became the first Republican to hold the position after defeating former Speaker Judi Won Pat at Tuesday's elections.
Unofficial results posted on the Guam Elections Commission's website showed that Moylan received 17,075 or 52.19 percent against Won Pat's 15,427 or 47.15 percent.
"Wow I’m still waking up to what seems like a dream," Moylan posted on his Facebook page. "I want to say thank you to the people of Guam for trusting me with the opportunity to represent them in the nation's capital. This is a humbling opportunity and one which I will continue to work hard every single day to ensure that our people are always the priority."
"Now the real work begins," he added.
For nearly three decades, the Guam delegate seat in the U.S. Congress has been the Democratic Party’s turf. Ben Garrido Blaz was the only Republican to hold the Guam delegate seat. Succeeding Antonio Won Pat, Blaz represented Guam in the U.S. Congress from 1985 to 1993.
Antonio Won Pat, a Democrat and the late father of Judi Won Pat, was the first Guam delegate to the U.S. Congress, where he served from 1973 to 1985.
Robert Underwood held the seat from 1993 to 2003. He was followed by Madeleine Bordallo, who served multiple terms from 2003 until she was defeated by San Nicolas in the 2018 elections.
Moylan will succeed the sitting Democratic delegate, Congressman Michael San Nicolas, who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor in the August primary.
Underwood said having a Republican delegate to Congress "is not necessarily good for Guam until a Republican becomes president."
"It does matter for purposes of access and the lanes that you travel. Democrats are more caring about territories but it can be smothering. Republicans are more cut-and-dry and are committed to statehood for Puerto Rico. They don’t want anything to get in the way of that. Moylan will have Republican lanes," Underwood said.
"Caucuses are important and help shape national policy and form personal alliances. Will the delegate join the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus? Will he join defense-oriented caucuses? Will he join the pro-life caucus? These are important decisions," he added.
Blaz, Underwood and San Nicolas all used Hispanic Caucus membership to build relationships. Underwood, Bordallo and San Nicolas used Asian-Pacific American networks.
On his Facebook page, Moylan addressed Won Pat. " commend and thank you for your passion in wanting to represent our people. I look forward to sitting with you and gaining any perspective that you feel our team should bring to the table in Congress."
In a statement prior to the Nov. 8 elections, Moylan said the return of ancestral lands to their original owners would be on the top of his agenda.
"Among our initial priorities will be to amend U.S. Public Law 106-504, to benefit the heirs of the original landowners of any transfer of excess real property," Moylan said.
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The statute, which was authored by Underwood, stipulates “any transfer of excess real property to the government of Guam may be only for a public purpose and shall be without further consideration.”
Moylan is a two-term legislator, who fought for transparency in government He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Guam. He was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army and served as a parole officer at Guam Department of Corrections. He managed the life and health departments at Moylan’s Insurance Underwriters, and government accounts at NetCare Life & Health Insurance Company.