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    Monday, October 22, 2018-3:58:43A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Barcinas may lose committee chairmanship

THE Republican leadership of the House of Representatives and the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation will soon decide if Rep. Donald Barcinas should remain chairman of the transportation committee.

On Wednesday, Barcinas announced that he was leaving the GOP to join the team of Independent/Democratic candidates.

Click to enlarge
From left, Kagman Community Health Center Executive Director Vince Castro, Rep. JP Sablan and Speaker Rafael Demapan. They met recently to discuss the proposed Susupe Community Health Center.  Contributed photo

In an interview on Thursday, Rep. John Paul Sablan, who chairs the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, said: “I respect his decision, and I’ve always had a good working relationship with him. But as chairman of the delegation, I have to ask the other members of the leadership how we can move forward.”

Barcinas is still a member of the delegation leadership.

 “As a leadership, we tend to work in one direction, but if we have a member who disagrees with the direction we are taking then, of course, that can be a problem. Again, I don’t have any ill feelings toward him, but this is something that I have to consider as delegation chairman and I hope he understands that.”

Speaker Ralph Demapan, in a separate interview, said Barcinas’ decision to leave the GOP means that he has also left the House leadership.

“I wish him well, but I have to say that I was very surprised to learn about his decision from the media and not directly from him,” the speaker said.

“We must now move forward because we have so much work ahead of us ...we must all focus on the work at hand for the greater good of our people. We will agree to disagree but we will put our people first.”

Barcinas said he bolted from the GOP because of its support of the marijuana-legalization bill which is now law. He also opposed a land-lease-extension bill which the House passed.

Barcinas’s wife is the sister of former Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro who resigned as GOP vice president after the House passed an amended version of  Senate Bill 20-35 which is proposing to extend public land leases from 40 years to 55 years.

Introduced by Senate President Arnold Palacios, the bill is back in the Senate.

A GOP supporter who declined to be identified noted that Barcinas apparently waited first for the governor to campaign for him and other Republican candidates in the states and for absentee voters to cast their ballots before announcing his defection.

In a statement, NMI Republican Party president James Ada said:

“It is unfortunate that after being endorsed by the CNMI Republican Party and certified by the Commonwealth Election Commission as a candidate of the party that Rep. Donald Barcinas decided to defect. All the ballots have been printed.  Many of our off-island supporters have already mailed out their ballots. However, we are moving forward, and we respect Representative Barcinas’ decision. While he is no longer a candidate of the party, we wish him luck in his endeavors

“The GOP board wishes to assure the people of the Commonwealth that the party and all of its Republican candidates remain united in working towards securing the people’s victory to ensure that the foundations of the progress that we see today are supported with continuing progress for a much stronger Commonwealth and toward a greater quality of life for our people.

“We ask for your continued support and vote of confidence for Torres-Palacios, Demapan for Congress and all the Republican candidates.”