Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Democrat Endorsement Propels Ex-chairman Past Outer Island Rival

 The American Samoa Democratic Party's (ASDP) weekend endorsement of Oreta Crichton (D) for the congressional seat currently held by Aumua Amata (R) was enough to propel Chrichton, a former ASDP chairman, past her Democrat rival Meleagi Chapman (D) in Chapman's Manu'a home base.  With all the votes counted, Crichton won 15.5% of the vote to Chapman's 6.0%. To no one's surprise, Aumua Amata carried the outer islands with 88.5%. She has always won in Manu'a, going back to the days of her many unsuccessful races against the highly popular (in the populous western districts of the main island) then-Congressman Eni Faleomavaega.

The ASDP held elections last weekend, which was curious since they just elected offcers earlier this year. There was some thought that the party wanted to clean the slate after two embarrassing episodes this year that brought negative national attention to the territory and made the party a laughing stock. At their presidential nominating caucus, they turned their backs on native daughter Tulsi Gabbard and awarded four of their six convention votes to New York City ex-mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose votes from American Samoa were the only ones he won, despite spending a billion dollars.  To make matters worse, he dropped out of the race the next day. Many people believed that he bought the votes with promises of underwriting delegation travel to the national convention and putting local people on his campaign payroll.

Critics of then party chairman Tama Sotoa blamed him for not being able to control the caucus, particularly since it already was apparent that Bloomberg had no chance of being nominated.  Sotoa then compounded his problems by featuring in the background in his national convention vote-casting video two members of the local U.S. Army Reserve unit in violation of Pentagon policy. Once again American Samoa drew negative national attention.

Some thought these two episodes were enough to force Sotoa out and indeed he was not a candidate for re-election last Saturday.  Why the party waited so long formally to back Crichton for Congress is a mystery since Chapman, the other Democrat on the congressional ballot, was a fringe candidate running for the third time.  But given the problems with Sotoa, the real surprise is that he was replaced by Ti'a Reid, the architect of the Bloomberg victory.  Judging from the Manu'a results for Crichton, Reid is continuing with a losing streak, which includes the overwhelming defeat of his mother, Salu Hunkin Finau, for Congress and before that the defeat of his uncle, Eni Hunkin Faleomavaega, for re-election to the House after having served 13 terms in the U.S. House.

If Reid orchestrated the late endorsement of Crichton, herself once the party chairman, in hopes of generating surprise, late, pre-election momentum for her, he failed miserably as Crichton fell to rhe incumbent congresswoman 83% to 14% with the rest going to Chapman.  

At ths same time, there were four teams running for governor-lt. governor and all identified as Democrats.  Perhaps Sotoa decided wisely to stay out of that contest and wait for the runoff for the top two tickets.  Perhaps mercifully for Reid, the top ticket won outright, thus sparing yet another potential embarrassment for Reid.

This blog was created to be dedicated to the defeat of the late Faleomavaega for Congress and after that was accomplished remained active to make sure he did make a comeback through his sister by proxy. Now it looks like we will have to keep our eye on his nephew, the hapless Reid, for the foreseeable future and be prepared to stifle any political ambitions he might have on his own.

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