Gov. Felix Camacho (R)
Felix Camacho, a Republican, was elected governor of Guam in 2002. Camacho grew up in Guam and attended Catholic schools. His father, Carlos Camacho, was appointed governor in 1969 and elected to a single term in 1970. Felix Camacho graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and returned to Guam and worked for Pacific Financial Corporation and IBM. In 1988, Republican Gov. Joseph Ada appointed Camacho deputy chief of the Public Utility Agency and director of the Civil Service Commission. In 1992, Camacho was elected to the Guam Legislature, where he became assistant majority leader.
In 2002, Camacho ran for governor, beating Guam Legislature Speaker Tony Unpingco in the Republican primary, 54%-46%. He faced Democratic U.S. Del. Robert Underwood in the general election and won 55%-45%. But Democrats won a 9-6 majority in the Legislature.
In September 2004, Camacho vetoed the Legislature’s $447 million budget, saying it would overspend revenue by $50 million, and the Legislature partially overrode his veto. He also helped arrange the privatization of the Guam Telephone Authority, sold for $150 million in December 2004 to TeleGuam Holdings. In 2006, Camacho declined to challenge a court ruling requiring millions in delinquent cost-of-living payments to GovGuam retirees. Not surprisingly, in September 2006 the Pacific Command said GovGuam was a “financial mess” because of its reluctance to lay off public employees and because of “borrowing in financial markets to pay employees.”
Camacho also fought with his lieutenant governor, Kaleo Moylan, and in December 2005, announced that he would choose a different running mate for his re-election bid. Moylan decided to challenge him in the Republican primary, but Camacho prevailed by 63%-36%. In the general election, Camacho once again faced Underwood. The election got ugly: Camacho was attacked for having worked with disgraced Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose emails showed contempt for Chamorros, the island’s largest indigenous group. Meanwhile, Underwood accused Camacho of spreading charges that Underwood was anti-Filipino. Camacho won narrowly 50%-48%.
GovGuam’s fiscal problems continued, and Camacho again fought with the Democratic majority in the Legislature. The most controversial issue of his second term was garbage. After GovGuam failed to comply with a judge’s order to clean up the Ordot dump, it was ordered in early 2009 to pay a fine of nearly $1 million per week. This put an additional burden on a government already strapped for cash.
Camacho is not eligible to run for a third term in 2010.