Bipartisan bill seeks to cancel primary election

Senator James Moylan (file photo)

Republican senator James Moylan and Democratic senator Therese Terlaje have joined together to introduce a bipartisan bill to cancel the Aug. 29 primary election.

Sen. Moylan told PNC News that the goal is to save money and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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The 2018 primary election cost $365,000 and the costs are higher now, says GEC Executive Director Maria Pangelinan.

“We’re coming to a higher amount based on today’s prices. Over $400? Possibly. That’s what it’s looking like over $400,000. Again, I want to reiterate that $365,000 was the cost of the primary election in 2018,” Pangelinan said.

That is money that the Guam Election Commission does not yet have and the legislature will have to appropriate. But senators James Moylan and Therese Terlaje think its better to cut that cost and prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s why they’ve introduced Bill 375-35.

“Having no primary would eliminate or reduce the exposure of COVID-19. So that’s one important reason. The second is that we know that our island’s financial situation is not so good. And we’re looking for ways to cost cut. And this is one way we can,” Moylan said.

The Moylan-Terlaje bill comes on the heels of Bill 374-35, introduced by Sen. Joe San Augustin, which would eliminate uncontested races, like the Republican delegate contest, the OPA race, and a number of mayoral races.

Guam Congressman Michael San Nicolas posted a statement on his Facebook page saying that “a ‘partial primary’ as proposed by Senator San Agustin is just voter suppression and doesn’t save any significant amount of money.”

He pointed out that the congressional race is an islandwide race “so there will be an islandwide vote … his employee is a challenger in this race and would benefit from certain demographics having lower voter turnout.”

“This is the real reason San Agustin wants a ‘partial primary,'” wrote San Nicolas, “he wants to manipulate the islandwide primary election by manipulating voter turnout.”

Cancel the whole primary or have the whole primary, argues the Congressman.

“Eventually though, after we pass this situation with COVID, I still think primary elections should be up to the parties and not having this cost to the government,” Moylan said.

To get the bill passed, Moylan says a special session is necessary and he has asked the Speaker to call one as soon as possible.