By Aurora Kohn
Congressman Michael San Nicolas ended speculation about his next political step when he filed his certificate of candidacy for governor of Guam on Tuesday, giving a clearer picture of this year's election landscape.
San Nicolas is on his second term as Guam's nonvoting delegate to the U.S House of Representatives. Up until this week, it was not clear if he was running for reelection.
With veteran broadcast journalist Sabrina Salas Matanane as his running mate, San Nicolas will challenge the incumbent Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero in the Democratic primary. Whoever wins the party's nomination will advance to the gubernatorial race against the Republican Party's standard bearer and former governor, Felix Camacho.
Other candidates interested in running for the Guam delegate position previously indicated that San Nicolas’ plans would have a bearing on their decision to run for the position themselves.
San Nicolas’ gubernatorial candidacy clears the path for candidates aiming to be Guam’s next representative.
In November last year, Republican Sen. James Moylan acknowledged that a “key consideration” in his decision to run for Guam delegate was whether or not San Nicolas would run for governor. The two are friends.
Moylan, a two-term senator, filed his certificate of candidacy for Guam delegate on March 17, despite San Nicolas’ plans remaining unclear at that time. He did confirm that he had given San Nicolas “advance notice” about his intentions.
"I had a private conversation with our congressman, and I’m going to leave it at that,” he said during a press briefing at the Guam Election Commission on March 18.
Peter Santos, a Republican and an attorney with the Public Defender's Office, earlier expressed interest in running for Guam delegate but has since indicated that his experience and qualifications make him better suited for the position of attorney general. He has not filed a certificate of candidacy for either position.
No Republican has been elected to Guam delegate seat for nearly four decades. Ben Garrido Blas was the last Republican who held the seat. He held it for four terms before he lost the seat to Robert A. Underwood in 1992.
Underwood was succeeded by another Democrat, Madeleine Bordallo, who was in office from 2003 to 2019.
Former senator Judi Won Pat, a Democrat, has confirmed her intention to make a bid for the congressional seat.
Won Pat is a former speaker and a nine-term senator. She is the daughter of Guam’s first delegate to Congress, Antonio Borja Won Pat. Won Pat has yet to file her certificate of candidacy for Guam delegate.
Also on the Democrats’ side, Sen. Telena Nelson signaled interest in running for Guam delegate by obtaining a candidate packet for the position in January.
However, she also obtained a candidate packet for a senatorial position at the same time and has yet to file her certificate of candidacy for either position.
San Nicolas has been consistently non-committal when asked whom he would support for the position he currently holds.
After declaring his intention to run for governor on Tuesday, San Nicolas said there are some good candidates aspiring for the delegate seat.
He acknowledged that he has “a very good friendship” with Moylan. But he clarified that all the candidates vying for the position “need to earn the support of the people.”
“I‘ve never been the kind of elected official to play the endorsement game and try to use influence to create outcomes in terms of who should get elected and who shouldn’t. The people would decide. They need to earn that seat,” San Nicolas said.