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Democrats Hope Record-Setting Turnout is Good Sign for November

Sept. 12, 2006 – Cecil Benjamin called Saturday's primary election vote, "an incredible turnout." Benjamin, who kept his Democratic Territorial Party chair for a second term, chalked up the voter count to "the excitement set forth by the three gubernatorial teams with their qualified experience."
He said early this week that the Democratic party will "get behind the winning team – John deJongh and Gregory Francis – and march to a Democratic victory in the November elections."
However, Benjamin said there's work ahead. "We need to reorganize a little bit with new people on board … to move forward as a team with the delegate to Congress [Donna M. Christensen], the elected senators in each district, the senator-at-large and the elected board officials."
He added, "We need to establish party unity immediately with the winners as well as the losers; don't leave anybody behind. We must get people properly oriented to develop an agenda from the senatorial standpoint, and the congressional standpoint, and come up with a document we can all live with."
The primary election saw five first-time Democratic senatorial St. Thomas-St. John district nominees, and three St. Croix district first-timers for seats in the general election.
Running will be Basil Ottley Jr., Alvin Williams, Toi Barbel, Horace Brooks and Patrick Sprauve in the St. Thomas-St. John district; and Michael Thurland, Wayne James and Jimi Weber in the St. Croix district.
Benjamin said, "I plan to take this [campaign] to a new level with a united front. I would take the lead to work with [the] national organization in the next few months to get back the excise taxes on gasoline and be able to put this in place. We have some work to do; we have to convince not only the Democrats that we are seriously moving forward to satisfy the interests of everybody. We are asking everybody to join us."
Return of the excise tax for gas produced in the territory has been a controversial issue for several years. (See "Hodge Suggests Hot Pursuit Of Gasoline Excise Taxes").
According to figures supplied by Supervisor of Elections John Abramson, the 2006 primary voter count topped the previous two primary elections. The St. Croix district had an impressive 36 percent turnout, compared to 13 percent in 2002 and 23 percent in 2004.
Although the St. Thomas-St. John district had a higher turnout in the 2002 and 2004 primaries, the overall total for the territory surpassed previous years.
The figures are:
St. Thomas-St. John District
Year Eligible Voted Percentage
2002 13,916 6,401 46 percent
2004 15,189 7,068 46.6 percent
2006 18,710 7,651 43 percent
St. Croix District
Year Eligible Voted Percentage
2002 20,048 2,664 13.7 percent
2004 18,401 4,137 23 percent
2006 18,484 6,687 36 percent
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