Nov. 2, 2004 Incumbent Donna M. Christensen, the overwhelming winner in the delegate to Congress race, was modest Tuesday night before the final votes were tallied.
Surrounded by her campaign workers at the Windward Passage Hotel on St. Thomas, Christensen said, "It's not really a landslide, I'd call it a solid win. I think St. Thomas gave me the higher vote. That's the sense I get from every polling place I've been to today."
Christensen said she thinks challenger Warren Mosler received a higher vote count on St. Croix than St. Thomas. "Some people voted for Mosler because of the economy," she said. Mosler ran his campaign strictly on financial issues, promising to hire grant writers to bring more federal dollars into the territory.
The delegate said she was surprised that the third candidate, Krim Ballentine, got as many votes as he did. Ballentine had no declared platform; he said repeatedly in political forums that his notion was to go to Washington, D.C., and "make the right friends."
Christensen said she is not surprised at the way the St. Croix Senate race was shaping up. "St. Croix is feeling left out. St. Croix is hurting and doesn't see any positive direction [in the current Senate]. It's a money issue."
She said, "I think Russell and Richards [incumbents] will hold their seats, but everyone else will be new Neville James, Pedro Encarnacion, Michael Thurland and Juan Serville." She said she was surprised at the low turnout for Lilliana Belardo de O'Neal.
As for her next term, Christensen said, "We need better financial planning. We may even have more money than we thought." Another big issue is the lifting of the territory's Medicaid cap. Christensen said Tuesday night, "It is moving much further ahead." She said Joe Barton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and John Dingell, its ranking member, are supporting her efforts to lift the cap. "We are hoping to have a hearing early in the year."
Among those helping Christensen celebrate were Vernelle de Lagarde, American Federation of Teachers president; Simon Caines, executive director of the 25th Legislature; Marie Simmonds, Christensen's campaign manager; and a face from the past, Ruby Simmonds, former senator and Education commissioner, who said, "I came home to vote."
St. Thomas senators Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Louis Hill were busy celebrating Tuesday night. As of 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Donastorg held the second slot, with Hill a close third. Both followed chief vote-getter Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone.
Hill said. "I feel good. I'm happy. It's wonderful and I'm grateful to everybody that supported me and to my staff, to my campaign workers." He said he was on his way to Pilgrim's Terrace to "relax." Hill said later in a Channel 2 interview that he thought "people were satisfied with what I have done, the GERS legislation and the Water and Land Use plan.
Donastorg was at his headquarters where a jubilant crowd was much in evidence in the background. "Yes, I'm fine," he said. "I'm grateful to the people first and foremost for the overwhelming support I've received."
Both Hill and Donastorg expressed mild surprise at Malone's big lead. Malone led Donastorg by about 600 votes at 10:30 p.m. "I think people consider him harmless," Donastorg said. "Some people consider me a radical, you know; I confront issues." It was not possible to reach Malone Tuesday night.
As for the St. Croix senate race where only two of the incumbents retained their seats as of 10:30 p.m., Donastorg said, "It's obvious. The handwriting was on the wall. After the primaries, there was a perception and the trend just continued."
It looks like a shoo-in for another Democratic majority for the 26th Legislature, with Sens. Lorraine Berry, Roosevelt David, Donastorg, Hill and Malone on St. Thomas and Senator-at-large Craig Barshinger. On St. Croix, Pedro Encarnacion, Neville James, Juan Figuera Serville, and incumbent Ronald Russell would make it another 10-member majority.
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