Ginger Cruz brings impressive career in and network with military and federal partners into race for Congress

Ginger Cruz, pictured here at the Guam Election Commission on February 6, 2024, signs out for her nominating packet for Guam delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for the primary election of 2024.

A name and face familiar to the voting-age majority of Guam picked up an election packet Tuesday night to run for office for the first time. Ginger Crunden Cruz, a longtime journalist, businesswoman, federal contractor, and leader in executive administrations from Carl Gutierrez to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama, has signaled she may be running for Guam delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Ms. Cruz is among the few Guamanians with a working understanding of the federal government and bureaucracy, having worked in senior positions in the Defense Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she was the Bush-era deputy assistant secretary. These roles spanning the terms of one republican and two democrat presidents – from 2000 to 2014 – followed her service to the government of Guam as communications director and chief advisor to Mr. Gutierrez.

At the height of the war in Iraq, Ms. Cruz began what is now a 20-year relationship with the U.S. military and its movement of resources around the world, including the military buildup in Guam. From 2004 to 2012 she served the country as deputy inspector general in the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which had oversight of the massive $60 billion reconstruction program. In that role she interfaced not only with federal agencies, the White House, and Congress, but also with NATO, adding international relations to her impressive resume.

She transitioned from the public sector back into private business, where she continued her career in all things military services, planning, logistics, and infrastructure development. She also advanced her international portfolio, working first as a consultant to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization before opening the company she continues to lead today, Mantid International.

Mantid has a global reach, with federal and defense industry contracts that include years of development in the U.S. IndoPacific Command area of operations.

Ginger Cruz, pictured here at the Guam Election Commission on February 6, 2024, signs out for her nominating packet for Guam delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives for the primary election of 2024.

That INDOPACOM experience and network, along with her established networks in Washington, D.C. leads directly into the dynamic world of current events, where Guam and the CNMI stand to benefit: the battle for the $34 billion the military intends to spend in this part of the world through the Pacific Deterrence Initiative. The PDI, approved by the Biden administration and the target of defense hawk republicans looking to siphon projects back to their home states, is a program that DOD has not yet fully detailed in terms of how much money will be spent and in what areas of the vast geopolitical region of INDOPACOM.

What is known is that this year, Guam was allocated a significant portion of the $9 billion thus far authorized from the PDI that is dedicated to missile defense and other projects, and that DOD intends to make this PDI investment in INDOPACOM places west of the International Date Line. That excludes Hawaii. And that means the only two U.S. jurisdictions within the area of spending should be Guam and the CNMI.

“World events have opened a window of opportunity for Guam,” Ms. Cruz told Kandit when asked why she is considering a run for Congress. She continued, “And while we have the focused attention of the U.S. Congress and the Federal Government, we need leaders with vision, creativity, strong communication skills and a deep understanding of the system who can turn this into long term benefits for Guam and her people. I see the great potential and I have the experience to do this job. I also know that this window will not stay open for long and so I am compelled to ask the people of Guam to put me to work in an area where I am confident that I can deliver.”

In that window is the PDI and how much money Guam can get from that program.

Also within view is a $6 billion proposal in its conceptual stages to bury almost all of Guam’s electrical distribution power lines so that the next big typhoon does not damage them. Following Typhoon Mawar, Ms. Cruz and Simon Sanchez from the Consolidated Commission on Utilities began working on the nexus to turning her idea into a concept her federal friends would be willing to sit down and talk about.

Ginger Cruz is pictured here at the Guam Election Commission on February 6, 2024 after signing out for her nominating packet to run for Congress.

The idea, according to Ms. Cruz’s public comments on the matter, is that the DOD should be just as interested in investing in an underground power distribution program just as much as the local population. Both sides of the fence suffer, when Guam Power Authority is unable to quickly repair an islandwide system from catastrophic damage.

The concept appears to be bearing fruit. To the north, the Palacios administration is reporting inroads in its talks with federal officials to a revamp and hardening of the CNMI’s power system, a solution benefitting the local population and the military, which is building up its forces there.

Ms. Cruz said she is running as a democrat, which may place her in a crowded field of contenders in the 2024 primary election that will determine who will challenge republican Jim Moylan to unseat him after his lackluster freshman term. Political insiders believe Michael San Nicolas and Amanda Shelton also will seek the democratic nomination in the primary election.

All three candidates have star power. While Ms. Cruz has never run for public office before, she is a household name to Guamanians who lived in Guam from the 1980s to the 1990s, when her face and voice entered nearly every home every evening at 6 p.m. for the nightly news.

She is an Ivy League graduate, receiving her bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Pennsylvania, and a masters in international public policy from John Hopkins University.

She is a Lifetime Member of the Council of Foreign Relations, and member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce Armed Forces Committee and the Society of American Military Engineers, Guam chapter, among other memberships.

According to her curriculum vitae, she has received numerous awards, remains a columnist, and has authored several professional publications.

The primary election in Guam will take place on Saturday, August 3, 2024.


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