Hilda’s team takes a hit

Laura resident Stacy Anmontha casts her ballot as the polls opened Monday morning. Photo: Eve Burns.

With all Majuro wards tabulated, unofficial results show two incumbent Nitijela senators will lose their re-election bid, while a third is hanging onto fifth place by fewer than 30 votes — with absentee votes still to be included.

At Kwajalein, a strong showing by newcomer Kitlang Kabua bumped seven-term incumbent Alvin Jacklick into fourth place in the three-seat race, making it likely that the Kwajalein Nitijela delegation for the incoming four years will be Iroojlaplap Mike Kabua, Kitlang and incumbent David Paul, who was 70 votes ahead of Jacklick after Ebeye regular and Majuro absentee were tabulated. In Majuro, Likiep candidate Donald Capelle beat Tommy Kijiner, Jr. in a landslide, 156-75, and held a 217-163 lead after Ebeye absentee votes were added. President Hilda Heine received a strong challenge from Justin Lani, winning Aur regular votes by just 14, 168-154. The outer island results are partial and unofficial, with more votes to be tabulated.
Although the tabulation of Majuro absentee votes was ongoing Wednesday and expected to continue through the week, the net affect of the emerging trend in Majuro, Kwajalein and some outer island races is that opponents of President Heine’s government are gaining ground.

For Majuro, incumbent Senator Tony Muller was the highest vote-getter as of Wednesday this week, with 1,388 votes. Newcomers Steven Philip and Sandy Alfred were holding the second and third positions in the five-seat race, and incumbent Kalani Kaneko, seeking his second term in office, was in the fourth spot. Nine-term incumbent Majuro Senator Brenson Wase was holding onto a tenuous 27 vote lead over another incumbent, three-term veteran David Kramer. First time Nitijela candidate Yolanda Lodge-Ned was only four votes back of Kramer and 31 short of the coveted fifth spot in the Majuro race.

Incumbent Sherwood Tibon, who entered his first Nitijela race in 2015 with a splash by receiving the most votes of the five Majuro Nitijela winners, was in the ninth spot with 728 votes, virtually eliminating him from re-election.

Meanwhile, as expected on Kwajalein, four-term incumbent Mike Kabua was the top vote-getter with 895 votes after Ebeye regular and Majuro absentee were counted. His granddaughter Kitlang Kabua had 738 votes and incumbent David Paul was in third in the three-seat race with 533 votes. Jacklick, who was first elected to Nitijela in 1991 and has represented both Kwajalein and Jaluit, is in danger of losing his re-election bid, having gained only 463 votes in the initial phase of tabulation.

Read more about this in the November 22, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.