Republicans may finally be back in power. We hope they use it to our benefit, not theirs

A cursory look at the candidates for the Guam Legislature in this year’s election shows something anomalous since Mark Forbes ruled the legislative branch with an iron fist two decades ago: the Republican Party of Guam appears to have an upper hand.

Election math is a lot more simple and scientific than legislature math, which really says something about our capabilities as voters. But I digress. The party under which more of the quality and popular candidates run will win the legislative majority. Republicans have not fielded this mathematical advantage since Felix Camacho was the governor, thus democrats have controlled the legislature since 2008.

This year, though, the democrats are in trouble. Not only does it appear all six republican incumbents will be seeking reelection, they will be joined by popular and arguably quality names: Tony Ada, Shawn Gumataotao, Sabrina Salas Matanane, and Vince Borja, among others.

It is highly likely the republicans will win back the legislature in November. They may even take a supermajority.

But with this power comes an expectation of responsibility and integrity. Republican senators have talked a big game the past 16 years about the folly of their democrat counterparts. They have screamed about fiscal responsibility, lowering the tax burden, going after the corrupt, fixing the Chamorro Land Trust Act, deregulating the government, cutting red tape to make the island more business friendly, properly funding the police force and public schools, and advocating anti-abortion legislation and stronger foster care support.

If and when they win back the legislature, they need to deliver. Big. And that means they will need to be ready to make tough decisions in order to make their priorities work. Hopefully they do, because change isn’t worth the contract it’s written on unless and until it is actionable. The GOP has been waiting 16 years to change many laws, so once a new republican legislature is inaugurated, there will be great expectation for massive reform from the jump. No excuses. No frets. No second thoughts. Just cold, hard change that disrupts the political system, but is based on a professional, solidly-communicated agenda free from the politics of the past, opacity in planning and implementation, and the vendettas that have strangled progress for so long.

I am wary of some of the candidates and what the power of the majority may do for them. This is based on their behavior now.

Joanne Brown

For the entirety of this term and last, Joanne Brown and Telo Taitague have used their positions to rail against the Port Authority of Guam, and to block really anything coming out of Adelup. They even led multiple efforts to pass an inorganic, unconstitutional ex-post facto law motivated by a political opportunity against the sitting lieutenant governor. Opposition for the sake of accountability is one thing. Obstructionism is quite another.

If these two senators become part of a new legislative majority – each having control of powerful committees and maybe even leadership positions – I fear what that additional power may mean. Who among their political enemies will have to cower? What emboldened attacks should we expect, and against whom?

Sen. Telo Taitague

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree with everything they do. Ms. Brown is a highly intelligent, extremely capable public official. Ms. Taitague has a no fear spirit I wish other senators could clone into themselves. But they have clearly abused their powers, defamed people who were mere pawns in the political games they have played, and more importantly they have dialed back progress the governor has attempted to make. From discombobulated spending priorities that shift with the wind to the ability for customs and Guam police to be properly funded and staffed to housing and land policies… whatever the governor wanted to do, it appeared these two senators simply wanted to oppose her.

Listen, I’m not a fan of Lou Leon Guerrero, but she is our governor and she has the mandate of the voters to serve out the remainder of her final term in office. We only have one governor, and she is the lone leader of the executive branch. It is my hope republicans do not use their forthcoming power to obstruct progress for the sake of a political win against the democrat governor. Hold her accountable, and question her actions, yes. Limit her spending authority, absolutely. Question her ethics all the way. Fight for life and for the care of children! But do not impede her ability to serve us, the people.

We’ve seen this play out before. We’ve seen what happens when the second-term governor is so sick with power, he can’t accomplish anything of substance while an equally arrogant legislative majority of another party is busy circling the lame duck about to die a political death. It is a destructive political phenomenon that has only ever hurt all of us through either bad policy or inaction. Eventually all we’re left with is a carcass, hungry vultures, and a long climb up the valley walls.

Something tells me Ms. Brown and Ms. Taitague won’t be willing to come off their perches to help us up.


  • Alan San Nicolas

      03/24/2024 at 6:39 AM

    Para hafa hit ni pattida ( buliku put seno elefante ) !!! Bota I hayi kapas yan fachocho na kandidatu. Ti guáilayi, ti nisisario I applacha na huegon politika. AFAÑELOS FAN BOTA GI HA’ANEN BOTASIÓN, NA FIÉT-MAGAHET !!!

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