Technically, the first polls in the United States closed more than 12 hours ago on Guam in the Pacific Ocean.
After a long night of counting votes, election officials announced this morning that the island’s residents chose Lou Leon Guerrero as Guam’s first female governor. Leon Guerrero, a Democrat, won 18,081 votes, just over the 50% of the electorate, defeating a Republican slate that earned more than 9,000 votes and some 8,000 write-ins.
While island politics may not map directly onto the closely watched legislative elections in the United States, it’s worth remembering that the US is politically responsible for an island full of citizens on the other side of the international dateline.
Guam is a territory of the United States, like Puerto Rico or American Samoa. It’s been in the news most recently as a key base for US troops that has been threatened by North Korea.
Leon Guerrero was born on the island, but went to college in Los Angeles and worked as a nurse in Santa Monica. After returning to Guam, she served as a local legislator and then became chair of the Bank of Guam, founded by her father.
While she’ll be focusing on local issues, there is another way that Guam may wind up on the national stage again. Democrats face an uphill battle to gain a majority in the senate this year, and the controversial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has left significant mistrust for the institution.
In response, some activists have considered promoting statehood bills for Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa—all full of US citizens who aren’t represented in Congress. Such a move would require years of advocacy and popular support, but it would make Guam’s day-early elections much more interesting to everyone back in the lower 48.