8 Dec 2009

Benigno Fitial wins run-off election for Governor in CNMI

6:54 am on 8 December 2009

Benigno Fitial of the Covenant Party will serve for another five years as the Governor of the Northern Marianas starting next month.

His victory was sealed over Republican Representative Heinz Hofschneider when the counting of absentee ballots wrapped up yesterday.

Beningo Fitial, 64, is the first CNMI governor to be re-elected since 2003.

Official election tally showed that he and his running mate Lieutenant Governor Eloy Inos received a total of 6,610 votes, a 370-vote lead over the 6,240 votes that Mr Hofschneider and House Speaker Arnold Palacios received.

Beningo Fitial is also the first governor to serve a five-year term instead of the regular four years as a result of a newly ratified legislative initiative that requires the holding of general elections on even-numbered years.

Were it not for a new runoff election law, the Hofschneider-Palacios team would have won by only eight votes over the Fitial-Inos tandem during the four-way gubernatorial race on the 7th of November.

The eight-vote lead was the closest gubernatorial race in CNMI history.

But because none of the four original candidates got at least 50 percent of the votes cast in the November 7 general elections, a runoff election was held on November 23rd.

The Republicans and the Covenant team, however, had to wait until December 7 for the official counting of additional absentee votes.