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The Battle for Speaker (Guam) ROUND 3: Sen. Amanda Shelton

Editor's note: This is the third in a multi-round series about the election for the next speaker of the Guam Legislature. The selection process normally is conducted behind the closed doors of party caucuses. Kandit is trying to shine the light on this dark, archaic process.

By Jacob Nakamura

It has been days since we asked Sen. Amanda Shelton to be honest with the people of Guam on whom she will be voting for speaker of the next legislature. While the senator was very public and vocal in the days leading up to her reelection, she's now nowhere to be found.

Ms. Shelton has not responded to our week-old request for an answer to Guam's citizens.

Vice Speaker Telena Nelson and Sen. Clynt Ridgell have responded to Kandit, both saying their Democrat caucus has yet to meet to discuss the matter of who will be the next speaker.

Democrats will be meeting soon behind closed doors to decide who among them will by the speaker of the 36th Guam Legislature. Kandit has asked all eight Democratic senators who they will be voting for between current Speaker Tina Muna Barnes and crowd favorite Sen. Therese Terlaje.

Democratic Sen. Joe San Agustin is emerging as a dark horse candidate for speaker.

Voters at the General Election reduced the Democratic majority from 10 senators to eight, all of them incumbents. They include Muna Barnes, Terlaje, San Agustin, Nelson, Jose "Pedo" Terlaje, Sabina Perez, Clynt Ridgell, and Amanda Shelton.

Sen. Therese Terlaje received, by far, the highest number of votes in the election... again.

Ms. Terlaje vied for speaker in the current legislature, but was muscled out by Ms. Muna Barnes within the closed-door confines of Democratic caucus in December 2018. Kandit is trying to draw answers out from Democrats now. Political pundits agree the race is back between the two to lead Guam's first and most powerful branch of the government.

There may be a wrinkle in the Democrats's plans, though. Republicans now have a strong minority of seven senators in the next legislature. All it will take is for one Democrat senator to align with the GOP in order to switch the majority. Incoming Republican Sen. Joanne Brown is offering Democrats her vote for speaker in return for making her the chairwoman of the committee having oversight of the seaport authority.

A major split among the incoming Republican minority of seven also has reared itself in the debate over Republican Sen. Mary Torres's Bill No. 312. The legislation seeks to modernize the government's merit system in certain ways.

All four of her current Republican colleagues publicly chastised her and all but removed her from the Republican caucus. Ms. Torres's father, the late Gov. Carlos Camacho, was a founding father of the Republican Party of Guam and its forebear, the Territorial Party of Guam.

The split among the current five Republican senators is aggravating impending plans by a faction of the incoming seven GOP senators to decide the Democratic speakership through a coup. Ms. Torres and incoming Republican Sen. Frank Blas, Jr., according to confidential party sources, have refused to participate in the coup.

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