Sept. 13, 2002 – One of the four territorywide races for public office in the 2002 election gets a jump start Saturday with a primary race to determine the Democratic contender on the ballot for senator-at-large.
Registered Democrats in both districts may vote in the primary race between Craig Barshinger and Harry Daniel. The winner will square off in November against incumbent Almando "Rocky" Liburd, a member of the Independent Citizens Movement, and Republican Party candidate Wilma Marsh Monsanto.
Barshinger, a St. John businessman, has challenged Liburd for the at-large Senate seat in the last three elections. Daniel, vice chair of the Board of Education and former member of the Board of Elections, is making his first run for the office. Both men are community oriented activists and have served on the Democratic Party Territorial Committee.
Daniel, a retired police officer, said he's putting in his bid for the ballot spot because "people have asked me for the last three years, 'Why don't you run? You'd be a good candidate.'"
Barshinger says he's glad of the competition. "I welcome the fact that Harry has thrown his hat into the ring because a team needs depth," he said.
He said he was recruited by the Democrats in 1998 after running as an independent two years earlier. "I like it," he said when asked about the political life. "It's a tough business, but the way you improve our community, instead of complaining about it, is to get involved."
Daniel has devoted much of his life to community involvement, spending 23 years with the V.I. Police Department and two as chief ranger of the Virgin Islands National Park. A Vietnam veteran, he's an advocate for veterans' causes, a member of the V.I. National Guard, a longtime Red Cross volunteer and president of the St. John Community Foundation.
Barshinger serves on the board of the St. John Community Foundation, as well as the boards of the League of Women Voters, the Interfaith Coalition, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and St. John Singers. He's a former member of the Girls Scouts Council nominating committee and is a member of the St. John Rotary Club and the Navy League.
One thing the candidates have in common is the desire to unseat Liburd. Barshinger said he took up the challenge because others seemed afraid to challenge the popular politician, who has served six successive terms in the Legislature, twice as Senate president.
Daniel described himself as the voice of St. John voters who feel they are not getting the representation they need from Liburd. "I can deliver to the people what they want. I'm professional enough to represent the needs of the people," he said.
The at-large senator, who must reside on St. John, is the island's de facto lawmaker, but the job entails representing the whole territory. The at-large senator has offices on St. Thomas and St. Croix as well, and election is on a territorywide basis.
Both Democratic candidates have been campaigning actively for Saturday's contest, with Daniel spending his time recently courting supporters on St. Croix and Barshinger making the rounds of radio talk shows to get his message across to those on all islands.
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