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Barcinas defects from GOP, joins Babauta-Sablan team

PRECINCT 3 Rep. Donald Barcinas. who is seeking a second term, has bolted the Republican Party and joined the independent Babauta-Sablan team.

Barcinas who chairs the House Committee on Transportation, was the only House member who voted against the marijuana legalization bill that Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres signed into law last month.

Click to enlarge
Rep. Donald Barcinas, third left, poses with independent gubernatorial candidate, former Gov. Juan Nekai Babauta, his running-mate, former Education Commissioner Rita Aldan Sablan, center, U.S. Congressman Gregorion Kilili Camacho Sablan, second right, Sen. Paul A. Manglona, right, and Saipan senatorial candidate, former Speaker Heinz S. Hofschneider.  Photo by  Emmanuel T. Erediano

He went to the Babauta-Sablan team headquarters on Wednesday to personally express his support for former Gov. Juan Nekai Babauta, his running mate, former Education Commissioner Rita Aldan Sablan, U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, who is seeking re-election, and the other candidates on the Independent-Democratic slate.

Babauta, Sablan and their supporters welcomed Barcinas “with open arms.”

Barcinas said the legislative leadership and the administration’s decision to legalize marijuana use  was one of the reasons for his decision to leave the Republican Party.

“I feel the need to stand up for what is right and keep my decency. My constituents told me not to vote for the marijuana legalization bill,” Barcinas said adding that the proposal should have been placed on the ballot so voters could decide for themselves.

He said he believes that the Babauta-Sablan team shares his principles.

“I cannot continue to support a party whose beliefs are different from mine, especially when it comes to the marijuana issue. That is one of the determining factors in my decision to join the Babauta-Sablan team,” he added.

He said he does not believe that the marijuana law, whose enactment was “rushed,” will create a new  revenue-generating industry on island.

The day the governor signed the bill angered him even more, Barcinas said, adding that the CNMI flag in the governor’s office that day was altered.

“The ocean background of our flag was replaced with marijuana leaves. To me that was a big dishonor to our people. Our flag represents us, as people. To remove that ocean backdrop that represents our people and cover it with marijuana leaves is disrespectful. That flag went viral on the internet and was titled, ‘Northern Marijuana Islands.’ ”

He said two days before the governor signed the marijuana-legalization law, brownies laced with marijuana were brought to one of the schools on Saipan.

Marijuana abuse, he added,  is out of control already and cannabis legalization will make things worse.

For his part, Babauta said Barcinas’ decision came as no surprise, “considering the things that have been happening in the Commonwealth.”

In the past one and half years, he said he sensed that Barcinas was not happy with the actions taken by the House leadership and the Torres administration.

Babauta said he knew it would just be a matter of time before the Precinct 3 lawmaker would announce that he was leaving the GOP.

 “He is a person I’ve known for a long time, and he cannot live under this kind of cloud. It’s against his conscience. I extend my greatest respect to a person who comes to that conclusion. I welcome his  support — we welcome him with open arms.”