But draft letter reveals his withdrawal
FORMER Gov. Carl Gutierrez yesterday said he was still weighing his decision on whether he will pursue the run for Public Auditor, but a draft letter addressed to the “people of Guam” revealed his impending withdrawal from the race.
“There’s a lot of issues facing the island and there is a strong concerted effort to bring the Legislature away from the Democrats, so they asked that I do what I do best to energize the party and I can’t do that as a public auditor,” Gutierrez said in an interview with the Variety.
Democratic leaders wrote to Gutierrez on Wednesday, asking him to pull out of the Public Auditor race and resume leadership of the Democratic Party.
“As a candidate for this nonpartisan office, you will not be able to participate in any partisan election and will be prevented from campaigning with us in the coming weeks,” read the letter signed by Gloria Nelson, Speaker Judith Won Pat, Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz, Legislative Secretary Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes and Majority Leader Rory Respicio.
“There are pressing political issues facing the island and a strong Democrat showing in the Legislature, villages and in Congress is where Guam’s best hopes lie,” the letter said.
Gutierrez said he began meeting with his family, close leaders and supporters after receiving the letter Wednesday night. “I need to talk to more people,” he added.
Regardless of his final decision, Gutierrez said he turned in his court and police clearances to the Guam Election Commission yesterday afternoon.
“I can understand where they are coming from,” Gutierrez said, referring to the Democrats. “The law governing the Public Auditor position prohibits me from engaging in partisan politics.”
Gutierrez said with Gov. Eddie Calvo’s recent endorsement of the National Republican Party’s platform that supports minimum wage-setting flexibility for territories, having a Republican majority in the 32nd Legislature could hurt Guam’s working class families.
Meanwhile, a source said Gutierrez is likely to announce his decision today and read his two-page letter withdrawing his candidacy and thanking his supporters. Variety obtained a copy of the letter.
“Recognizing that my greatest strength is in my political base in the Democratic Party of Guam and having the utmost respect for the letter of the law requiring nonpartisanship and political independence, I feel that the most appropriate thing at this point to do, as my party has asked, is to hit the campaign trail – not as a nonpartisan candidate for Public Auditor, but as Carl Gutierrez, the Democrat.
“Although I am declining candidacy on the general election ballot for Public Auditor, I will continue to urge legislation to restore the original term limitation [for Public Auditor], which is so important for this type of office,” the letter stated. “And I will continue to advocate for true accountability through any and all means possible. But now, I am going where I am most effective and most needed, and that’s with the People’s Party.”
Carlo Branch, executive director of the Guam Democratic Party, said there is a more pressing need for Gutierrez to be involved in the midterm election campaign considering the political and social issues at stake.
“If he runs for Public Auditor, he cannot help the Democrats,” Branch said, describing the former governor as “the Michael Jordan of the grassroots campaign.”
If the Republicans held the majority, Branch said, they would have their way to implement a lower minimum wage on Guam, cut maternity benefits, and remove the leave-with-pay benefits for those sent on deployment for more than three months.
‘Leap in logic’
Troy Torres, communications director at the Governor’s Office, said the GOP platform gives territories flexibility on the minimum wage, “but the governor has never proposed to reduce the minimum wage at all. Trying to make such a leap in logic is almost as ridiculous as the Democrat senators now saying they are for tax refunds and the military buildup.”
Turning the tables on the Democrats, Torres said, “The only people who have been against Guam's working families have been the Democratic leadership in the Legislature who opposed the tax refunds. If they were really for the working poor then they wouldn't have been so opposed to the governor's plan to pay the refunds.”
But draft letter reveals his withdrawal