SAIPAN — Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres on Friday said he wishes fellow Republicans Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios and Saipan Mayor David Apatang luck in their candidacies.

Palacios and Apatang have announced they are running for governor and lieutenant governor of the CNMI in next year's elections.

Asked about the team's campaign slogan, "Rebuilding Trust," Torres said: "I respect their slogan. ... They have (a campaign) to run and that's their slogan and I'll leave it (at) that at this moment. ... I wish them both luck."

Torres said he has always respected Palacios – his running mate in the 2018 elections – and the lieutenant governor's office itself.

Torres said his work dynamic with Palacios has not changed, adding that the two executives will continue to work together for the betterment of the community.

The governor also was asked to comment on the Republican lawmakers who have expressed their support for the Palacios-Apatang ticket: CNMI House Vice Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, House Floor Leader Ralph Yumul and Rep. John Paul Sablan.

"We all have decisions in our life that we make," Torres said. "We're all elected. We all have integrity to uphold, and that decision that they make has to be respected. I have never wavered on my party, even when I was asked to run as a lieutenant governor with the late Gov. (Eloy) Inos, who was part of the Covenant Party at the time. I stayed Republican and throughout my political career, I've always been a Republican. So I will ... continue to be a Republican – a proud Republican, for that matter. (But) I respect those decisions that have been made."

Torres added: "We still need to work together for the betterment of our community. There are still a lot of issues that need to be addressed and I hope that we can continue to work together. That's why we were elected in the first place."

The governor's new running mate is CNMI Senate Floor Leader Vinnie Sablan.

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