While they stopped short of a formal endorsement of the Republican ticket seeking Guam’s highest office next year, both Del. Michael San Nicolas and running mate Sabrina Salas Matanane made it clear at what could be their last campaign event that they would not be unifying behind the incumbent team of Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero and Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio.
“This primary election … taught us what happens when we poison our community with dirty politics,” San Nicolas said Thursday to campaign supporters at a Tamuning bar, later adding: “The message is clear: We cannot allow our community to continue to be poisoned.”
The actions of the incumbents’ campaign, according to the outgoing delegate, is part of the reason he will not unify behind the winners of the Democratic party’s nomination for governor and lieutenant governor.
“They're asking us to concede,” he said, to responses of, “No!” from supporters in attendance.
He came to his decision after he made a confession to his priest, he said, where afterward “it all became clear."
“We must never, ever concede to that kind of evil,” San Nicolas said, later adding: “I’m going to set an example for my children. I’m not going to tell them that, after experiencing that, and seeing that and knowing that that is what’s out there, that he should go and bend the knee to that. No. Never.”
He reiterated that both he and Salas Matanane “are not going to concede” to the winners of the Democratic primary election.
The lieutenant governor hopeful also shared how, at times, she felt knocked down during the course of her candidacy.
“I have to admit there were days when I would wake up wondering, ‘What kind of punches are going to get thrown at us?’ Wondering, 'What kind of dirt is going to be slung our way?’” Salas Matanane said. “And I almost quit; I almost gave up. But because all of you were in our corner, it gave me the strength and the courage to continue fighting, to continue to stand strong.”
A former journalist and broadcaster of 25 years, she told the crowd gathered that she could write a book about the campaign. But the story Salas Matanane told that evening was a call to action, clearly against having the current administration remain in office.
“If you believe in a better Guam, if you believe in a better future for our children, you have to continue fighting, especially in the November general election,” she said. “In the primary election, 60% of our registered voters decided to stay home. We can’t let that happen again.”
She urged her supporters to get their families and friends to vote in the upcoming general election, and “unite for change.”
San Nicolas told his supporters about the difficulties he had processing the primary election loss. His run for Adelup, including the decision-making process beforehand, was all a “journey of faith and of service,” he said, which was tested in the face of setbacks in raising money and even finding a running mate, challenges San Nicolas blamed his opponents for causing.
“We couldn’t fundraise because they scared away our fundraisers,” he said. They would go over there and pull financial reports about all kinds of dirty stories about anyone who donated to us. We only raised something like $60,000 - unheard of in a gubernatorial election,” he said.
But the campaign showed, San Nicolas stressed, that you “don’t need to be a millionaire to serve the people, you just have to have a heart for the people.”
When results started coming in, showing his effort trailing behind his opponents, he said he turned to God once more.
“How is it that 9 out of 10 either didn’t vote for us or care to vote?” he said he asked God. “And it created for me, internally, a real crisis in public service. And I really asked myself, ‘How can I do this again?'”
And the answers he found, he said, were faith and a clear call to rest and “make up for lost time with my family.”
“No matter how diminished, we will never be extinguished,” he said.
San Nicolas urged his supporters to bring “the fight to the general election,” before welcoming the team of former Gov. Felix Camacho and Sen. Tony Ada, who courted support from those who initially voted for the delegate.
The Republican campaign and the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio team have both confirmed they are reaching out to voters, including those aligned with the San Nicolas-Salas Matanane ticket, leading into November’s vote.