NMI Democrats choose Sanders for president

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THE NMI Democratic Party, by a vote of 84 to 48, on Saturday chose Sen. Bernie Sanders as its presidential preference during the presidential caucus in the Taga Hall of Saipan World Resort.

Shannon Jackson, the Sanders northeast campaign director, campaigned for the Vermont senator while retired local teacher Ambrose Bennett campaigned for the national frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.

134 NMI Democrats from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota participated in the caucus.

Those who participated from Tinian and Rota attended the caucus via video-conference.

Eighty-four NMI Democrats, including four from Rota and three from Tinian, went for Sanders while 48, including eight from Rota, voted for Biden.

The northeast director of the Bernie Sanders campaign, Shannon Jackson, back row, fourth right, joins NMI Democrats who support Sen. Bernie Sanders during the NMI Democratic Party presidential caucus in Saipan World Resort’s Taga Hall on Saturday.

The party then selected three delegates who will represent the NMI supporters of Sanders to the Democratic National Convention, and two NMI delegates who will support Biden.

The NMI delegates for Sanders are Christian Punzalan, Stephen Woodruff, and Bert Palacios while the delegates for Biden are Ambrose Bennett and Marie Camacho with Eloise Lopez as alternate.

NMI Democratic Party President Nola Hix said the focus of the event was to make sure everybody understood that the party’s presidential candidate will be representing the entire country along with the territories including the CNMI.

The NMI Democratic Party, she said, has been very active in the DNC. There will be a lot of important decisions that are going to be made this year, particularly in the territories, she said, as she commended NMI Democratic Party committeeman Mike White who has been “working tirelessly.”

Hix said the NMI Democrats have formed an alliance with their counterparts in the other territories — the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Guam — and Washington, D.C. to discuss issues that affect them.

“Be proud because a lot of those dialogues started with the CNMI,” Hix said.

Former CNMI Gov. Carlos Camacho, second left, wife, Winnie, second right, former Saipan Mayor Jose Sablan, left, and local businesswoman Carmen Cabrera, right, hold signs to express support for former Vice President Joe Biden.  Photos by Emmanuel T. Erediano

“We are the people’s party. We are excited about being the voice of the people. We are doing a lot within the community like roadside waving for change,” she said.

Hix said the party will make sure that the community is aware of the issues that are facing the islands, and that the Democrats are addressing them and coming up with solutions. “There will be a lot of big news coming,” she added.

Hix also urges community members to “make sure people are confident in running for office and that transparency happens in the Commonwealth Election Commission.”

“But most importantly,” she added, “we need to make sure that people are confident in running as Democrats.”

The last time the NMI Democrats won an elective office was in 2007. The last time the party won an NMI gubernatorial election was in 1993.

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