Barnett calls out Lou & Josh campaign for alleged bully tactics


Popular media personality and democratic senatorial candidate Chris Barnett said the chairman of the Democratic Party of Guam gave him an ultimatum: Publicly endorse the campaign of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio, or lose any chance of their support.

“I’ll just be honest with you guys,” Mr. Barnett said in a video he released today. “Before I even filed my candidacy I had an impromptu meeting with the democratic party chair. You know, he laid it out. He said basically, ‘When you come to the Lou and Josh things, you kinda have to say you’re all in.’

“And it was even said in this meeting that if I’m not seen at these pocket meetings, that that side might not vote for me. So, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to take by standing on my principles, so that’s why I need you guys’s help.”

Despite the assertion, the co-chairman of the Lou & Josh “All In” campaign committee said all candidates are welcome to their events and are not required to make an endorsement.

Mr. Barnett took to Instagram after one of his fans asked him which of the gubernatorial teams he is supporting.

“Which of the governor and lieutenant governor teams am I supporting?” he repeated the fan question. “Well, the way we usually do it, is if you have more than one team running under a party banner, everyone kind of cheers for everyone, or doesn’t really take a side until after the primary and there’s a clear winner left.”

The journalist and longtime satirist, who brilliantly has exposed issues of corruption with flair over the decades, said he’s not pledging his allegiance to anyone but the people of Guam.

Though he didn’t name him in his video, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Guam is Anthony “Tony” Babauta, who is Ms. Leon Guerrero’s former chief of staff. Upon assuming the party leadership, Mr. Babauta publicly claimed his role would be to get the governor re-elected, despite the candidacy of another democrat: Michael San Nicolas.

Kandit emailed the party asking for its leaders’s response to Mr. Barnett’s accusations. Party executive director Chirag Bhojwani said he referred the matter, but no response or denial has been provided as of the publication of this story.

All In campaign co-chairman Rory Respicio, however, did respond to our request for comment, telling Kandit that candidates do not need to endorse the Lou & Josh team as a condition of participating in such events as pocket meetings.

“If you’re a Democrat candidate for Congress or the Legislature and show up to a Lou and Josh pocket meeting, you will have a chance to speak,” Mr. Respicio said. “It’s also customary to have candidates running on the other party’s banner show up and work the crowd after the primary election, as we have seen in past gubernatorial elections, but those candidates never expected to speak at those meetings. There are no requirements to endorse nor are the candidates told what to say by our campaign. Also, if you are a candidate running for a nonpartisan race then you will be recognized but not required to speak because of the nature of that candidate’s election.”

Democratic Party’s efforts against San Nicolas

This would not be the first time the Democratic Party of Guam attempted to sideline candidates they may consider disloyal to the governor. The party, in April, attempted to disenfranchise 95 percent of island voters in the primary election by closing the primary to registered democrats only.

The brash move, which was short lived, would have allowed only 2,501 registered democrats to receive and cast their ballots on August 27, in an election the government of Guam funds and operates through the Guam Election Commission.

In every Primary Election since 1970, every registered voter has had the option to vote on either the democrat or republican ballot, so long as the voter does not cross over. The process has promoted voter participation and has democratized the selection of gubernatorial teams that voters want to advance into the General Election.

“Our goal is to strengthen our party and we continue to do so by working closely with the Democratic National Committee, which has provided critical funding to build our party and share best practices to protect our party and promote democrat candidates,” Democratic Party of Guam executive director Chirag Bhojwani said at the time.

“The attempts by the Democratic Party leadership in the Central Executive Committee (CEC) – made up of Lou and Josh supporters and employees – to cut off voters who don’t register as Democrats from voting in the Democratic Primary election is a simple attempt to force people to get partisan, rather than to vote for what they feel is best for Guam, and that shows it’s all about themselves and not the people,” Mr. San Nicolas said in a statement he issued shortly before the democratic party bosses confirmed their vote in April.

“All the more we see the true colors of the Lou and Josh machine reveal themselves, and all the more they show that it has nothing to do with empowering the people and lifting them up, but everything to do with manipulating people so they can dominate their lives,” said his running mate, Sabrina Salas Matanane.

You can watch Mr. Barnett’s video here and read the transcript of what he said below:

“Which of the governor and lieutenant governor teams am I supporting? Well, the way we usually do it, is if you have more than one team running under a party banner, everyone kind of cheers for everyone, or doesn’t really take a side until after the primary and there’s a clear winner left.

“I’ll just be honest with you guys. Before I even filed my candidacy I had an impromptu meeting with the democratic party chair. You know, he laid it out. He said basically, ‘When you come to the Lou and Josh things, you kinda have to say you’re all in.’

“And, you know, I just think it’s unfortunate. I’ve always been a democrat, I’ve always been an independent. For me, I wasn’t about to file my candidacy and then turn to and run to the next pocket meeting and pledge my allegiance right away.

“And, I mean, part of the conversation was me saying, ‘Hey, if I’m gonna go over and do the Lou and Josh thing, I’m probably gonna go over and check out the other team, too, because you know, I have supporters on both sides and I wanna reach as many voters as I can.’ And, again, unfortunately I was told that would be a problem. So, I made a decision on my own that I’m going to just walk my own path and go out here and meet as many people as I can and we’ll see what happens after the primary.

“Was I bothered by it? Sure. Because, at the time of that meeting I had finally cemented my decision to run and I was excited. And it was kind of like my first taste of the politics.

“I could do a whole live on this right, but you know part of it for me, too, is that we’ve seen the legislature in this last term really struggle with the role of checks and balances. And I keep saying this. I think that’s because there’s too much buddy-buddy.

“And it was even said in this meeting that if I’m not seen at these pocket meetings, that that side might not vote for me. So, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to take by standing on my principles, so that’s why I need you guys’s help.”


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