U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan on Friday joined NMI Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Rep. Tina Sablan, her running mate Rep. Leila Haveia Fleming Staffler, and other Democratic hopefuls in filing their candidacies at the Commonwealth Election Commission on Friday.

Kilili, who has represented the CNMI as its independent nonvoting delegate in the U.S. Congress since 2009, is seeking an eighth term as a Democrat.

He is running unopposed for the third time.

"It makes it easier for me, but I never take things for granted,” he said. “I still go house-to-house, asking people for their support, and I am very happy.”

Kilili added, "And I am grateful. I am very humbled. No words can express my gratitude to the people for allowing me to serve them for seven [terms]. I shall continue working hard for the people."

For her part, Rep. Tina Sablan said it was an exciting day for her, Rep. Leila Staffler, the Democratic Party and all of their candidates.

"We are looking forward [to the] next few months [of campaigning], [and] I hope for a debate among gubernatorial candidates," she said.

She said the NMI Democrats are offering voters a choice for good governance, fiscal responsibility, fairness and honesty in the government which is, she added, what the people deserve.

Reacting to the crowd supporters at CEC on Friday, she said, "I am just overwhelmed with gratitude. We have a great [number of] supporters — they have been with us every step of the way and everybody that you see here today, and everybody that is here in spirit, they are looking for change and  good governance that our people deserve and that the Democrats will deliver."

Staffler said she, too, is “really grateful for everybody who is able to come out."

She and Tina, she added, are very grateful to have an opportunity to serve the community in another way.

"Our campaign is based on good governance and trusted leadership. Our campaign is based on accountability and transparency in government. It is something that Tina and I have been advocating for since we met in 2015," she said.

"And now today, we are standing before you to be your future governor and lt. governor, and we hope that the people will be able to experience good governance in our administration."

Critical election

In a statement, Tina Sablan said, “The 2022 election is a critical one, and voters will have important decisions to make. Voters will be able to choose between good governance and the status quo. They will be able to choose between candidates who have demonstrated their commitment to fairness and honesty in government, fiscal responsibility, and the well-being and empowerment of the people —and candidates who have abused the people's trust through acts of corruption or complacency.”

She added, “Leila and I, together with our U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan, and our fellow Democrats on the ballot, are committed to leading our Commonwealth to good governance and a healthier, safer, more just, and more beautiful future for all. We call on every eligible citizen of the Commonwealth to be sure to register to vote, get your friends and family to register, too, and vote Democrats into office on November 8.”

Staffler said, “It is an exciting time to be a voter in the CNMI.”

“This election will be pivotal for the long-term trajectory of the Marianas,” she added. “Since its ratification in June of 1976, our Marianas Covenant, named after the rainbow that appeared at the end of the Noah’s Ark story — when the rains stopped after 40 days and nights — this rainbow and our Covenant symbolize the hope of a greater tomorrow for the people. Tina and I are dedicated to the long-term vision set forth by our founders. One that provides equitable opportunity for all. One that prioritizes the economic drivers of healthcare and education for our people.”

The other candidates for governor are Republican Gov. Ralph DLG Torres who is running with Senate Floor Leader Vinnie F. Sablan; and the independent tandem of Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios and Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang.

According to the CNMI Constitution, “If no candidates receive more than one half of the total votes cast and counted for the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor, on the fourteenth day thereafter, a runoff election shall be held between the candidates for governor and the lieutenant governor receiving the highest and second highest number of votes cast and counted for those offices.”

This year’s Election Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.


A bachelor of arts in journalism graduate, he started his career as a police beat reporter. Loves to cook. Eats death threats for breakfast.

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