Nov. 2, 2004 "They said it couldn't be done," Craig Barshinger said four elections ago, in his first attempt to remove Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd from the at-large Senate seat he has occupied for the past seven terms.
Tuesday night made history. It could be done, after all. Barshinger beat Liburd for the at-large seat. The unofficial tally showed Barshinger with 12,177 votes to Liburd's 11,852 just 325 votes ahead.
At first, Barshinger wouldn't admit to much enthusiasm. For a first-time winner after a 10-year chase, he was very cautious. "You know I'm very passionate about getting to the work at hand, but I realize it's a staircase with 12 steps and I've just taken the first step," he said from St. Croix Tuesday night.
He gave a thumbnail of his past campaigns. "This is the fifth time," he said. "The first time, I was just getting my feet wet. I ran as an independent. The second time, some Democrats approached me and asked me to run as a Democrat. I asked them why, and they gave me a good reason. The third and fourth times, I ran as a Democrat because nobody else wanted to run against Rocky. They said he was unbeatable."
Barshinger said the whole process was "necessary in learning how to get things done." He said he "had to build up a network of friendships, people with shared goals and with government knowledge."
Rising to the situation, Barshinger said, "I have very little doubt we'll be re-elected in two years."
The only thing that could change Tuesday night's numbers, Barshinger said, is the absentee votes. But he said he had just talked with Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards, who said there was little chance the numbers would change.
Thinking it over, Barshinger said, "I suppose tomorrow when it sinks in, I'll be more ebullient, but to me it's just a position on a board, an important position."
A rising chorus of horn honking could be heard in the background over Barshinger's cell phone. "Oh, I'm about to go on a motorcade," he said. "Pedro and Serville are going, and I don't know who else, but we're celebrating now. I've gotta' go."
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