Nov. 3, 2002 – The leadership of the national Democratic Party has endorsed the territorial party's candidates in the V.I. elections — Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and his running mate, Sen. Vargrave Richards; Delegate Donna M. Christensen; and the "Team 2002 Democrats" running for the 25th Legislature.
In a letter addressed "to my fellow citizens in the U.S. Virgin Islands" and dated Oct. 31, former President Bill Clinton urged V.I. voters "to continue along the constructive path of the last four years." He said the territory "won a special place in my heart during my family's vacations in 'America's Paradise,' and I care very much about your future."
When Turnbull became governor, Clinton wrote, "the territorial government was on the brink of bankruptcy, and its problems were getting worse." The governor's "commitment to the public good and his own strong leadership succeeded in turning the situation around."
Clinton said that as president he worked with Turnbull and Christensen "in forging new directions for the Virgin Islands. Wasteful spending and the territory's debt were cut. Government revenues were increased." He added, "I was proud to help bring about new legislation that gave the territory almost all of the federal tax on rum produced in the islands."
Meanwhile, James O'Bryan, chair of the V.I. Democratic Party, received a letter dated Oct. 22 from Terence R. McAuliffe, chair of the Democratic National Committee, similarly endorsing Turnbull, Richards, Christensen and the "Team 2002 Democrats."
"National Democrats are very proud of the great job that Governor Turnbull and Senator Richards, working together with Congressional Delegate Christensen, have done since 1999 to cause economic recovery and avert the bankruptcy of the Virgin Islands, preventing intervention by the federal government," McAuliffe wrote.
Since signing a memorandum of understanding with the Department of the Interior in the Clinton administration, McAuliffe said, the V.I. government "has kept its promise to improve financial accountability by completing seven audits in four years, resulting in a significant increase in federal funds coming into the territory and the forgiveness of millions of dollars owed to the federal government."
The "Democratic team" has proven an ability to work together "to make good things happen for the people of the Virgin Islands during the last four years," McAuliffe said.
"Team 2002 Democrats" is the name chosen by nine party members in the St. Thomas-St. John district who announce last June that they would conduct a collective campaign. The team initially comprised two incumbents Sens. Lorraine Berry and Roosevelt David, and seven challengers — Craig Barshinger, Harry Daniel, Gilmore Estrill, Louis Hill, Winthrop Maduro, Shawn-Michael Malone and Kevin Rodriquez. Barshinger and Daniel squared off in the Sept. 14 primary to represent the party in the at-large Senate race, and Barshinger emerged as the standard-bearer.
Copies of both letters and press releases summarizing them were faxed to the news media on Saturday evening.
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