Votes tied for CNMI House speaker

HOUSE: The members of the 22nd CNMI House of Representatives pose for a photo during their inaugural session on Monday. Emmanuel T. Erediano/For The Guam Daily Post

SAIPAN — Members of the 22nd Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives were sworn in on Monday morning, but the election for the new speaker ended in a tie with Republican Angel Demapan and Independent Edmund Villagomez each receiving 10 votes.

Two more roll-call votes held later in the day failed to break the deadlock.

Following a closed-door meeting that ended around 7 p.m., Speaker Pro-Tempore Blas Jonathan Attao, a Republican, said the House would reconvene at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

On Friday, the House members had to toss a coin to select the speaker pro-tempore and floor leader pro-tempore.

Attao called heads and won the toss. Villagomez was designated as floor leader pro-tempore.

The inaugural session on Monday started at 10 a.m. The House then went into recess before noon and resumed its session at 2:30 p.m.

Another roll-call vote for the speakership ended in a tie, again.

After the House went into recess, the two political blocs held separate meetings.

When the session resumed after 4:45 p.m., Attao suggested that all of them, the 20 members, hold a closed-door meeting "so we can talk among ourselves and (come to an agreement) within the next couple of hours or minutes hopefully."

But the other members wanted another roll-call to vote to elect a new speaker. The result was another 10-10 tie.

Republican Rep. Ralph N. Yumul then told his colleagues, "This will be my last time voting for an impasse."

The House went into another recess, which was followed by a closed-door meeting among the 20 members starting at 6:30 p.m.

The House Democrats who voted for Rep. Edmund Villagomez for speaker are Reps. Tina Sablan, Edwin Propst, Sheila Babauta, Richard Lizama, Celina Babauta, Leila Staffler, Denita Yangetmai and Vincent Camacho. Also supporting Villagomez are Independent Reps. Donald Manglona of Rota and Villagomez himself.

The Republicans who voted for Rep. Angel Demapan are Attao, Reps. John Paul Sablan, Joseph Leepan Guerrero, Demapan, Roy Ada, Joel Camacho, Ralph Yumul, Ivan Blanco and Patrick San Nicolas of Tinian. Also supporting Demapan is Independent Rep. Joe Flores.