ENG: Benigno Repeki Fitial (born November 27, 1945) is the current governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Fitial was elected on November 6, 2005 and assumed office on January 9, 2006.
Fitial, a former Republican, founded the Covenant Party in 2001.
Fitial worked as a budget analyst for the government of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. He also worked as a former executive for Tan Holdings Corporation, which was the largest garment manufacturer in the Northern Mariana Islands at the time.
Fitial is a former member of the Republican Party, and even served as the chairman of the Republican Party in the CNMI.
Fitial left the Republican Party, and founded his own political party, the Covenant Party in 2001. He used the Covenant Party as a vehicle to run for Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands in the 2001 gubernatorial election with his running mate, then-Education Commissioner Rita Inos. However, Fitial was defeated in a landslide by the Republican ticket of Juan N. Babauta and his running mate, Diego Benavente. The Babauta-Benavente ticket received 5,512 votes, the largest number of votes ever received by a gubernatorial candidate in history to date.
In 2003, Fitial was elected to the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives in the 2003 midterm election. Candidates from his Covenant Party were also elected, giving the party the majority in the House of Representatives. Fitial was further elected the Speaker by the House in 2003, replacing Republican Speaker Heinz Hofschneider. He represented Precinct 3, which includes parts of Saipan and the northern islands.
2009 Gubernatorial re-election campaign
Governor Benigno Fitial announced in March 2008 that he would seek re-election to a second term in 2009.
In December 2010, Fitial announced that Covenant will merge with the Republican Party.
On June 12, 2009, Fitial presided over Covenant Party midterm rally in Susupe with an estimated crowd of approximately 3,000 people in attendance. Fitial and Inos officially filed to run for re-election with the CNMI Election Commission on July 23, 2009, in the presence of nearly 200 family and supporters. In the November 2009 gubernatorial election, Fitial was challenged by the Republican nominee, Heinz Hofschneider, as well as independent candidates Juan Pan Guerrero and Ramon "Kumoi" Guerrero. In March 2009, Fitial had publicly stated that he will retire from politics if his re-election bid was unsuccessful. In the general election, Hofschneider led Fitial by just 8 votes; because none of the candidates won a majority, a runoff between Hofschneider and Fitial was triggered.Fitial won the runoff by 370 votes and therefore was re-elected. Due to a newly ratified legislative initiative, Fitial will serve a five-year term and the next gubernatorial election will be held in 2014.