Well-known radio talk-show host and former V.I. Sen. Holland Redfield has set his sights on higher office, announcing Friday he is running for V.I. delegate to Congress on the Republican Party ticket this fall, challenging the popular eight-term incumbent Democrat, Delegate Donna Christensen.
Announcing his candidacy Friday via his radio show microphone, Redfield laid out a 10-point platform of priorities, covering topics from energy costs to rum tax revenues to Medicaid.
Regarding Medicaid, Redfield articulated the same position Christensen has expounded for many years; that the territory should be treated the same as the states.
"My intention is to move for the Virgin Islands to receive the same treatment as the states in these two programs," Redfield said. "Specifically lifting the cap on Medicaid, and moving towards total inclusion of the SSDI program. After all, we are loyal Americans.”
On rum cover-over revenues, Redfield said he wants to eliminate the process where Congress has to vote every two years to extend the rate at which alcohol excise taxes are remitted to the territories, instead setting the level permanently.
"I do not believe that we should have to go to Congress begging for something that we are already entitled to," he said.
Asked whether, as a lifelong Republican caucusing with House Republicans, he would support cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Food Stamps which House Republicans are pushing to enact, Redfield said he would oppose cuts affecting the territory and act independently. Comparing himself to John McCain, he described himself as "practical" and "pragmatic," and able to work with members of either party.
"I am not a Tea Partier, I am a practical politician," he said. "I get along with everyone; Democrats or Republicans, while the delegate (Christensen) does not," he said.
Asked if he would continue to host his radio show, and whether that posed a conflict for a candidate to Congress, Redfield said the talk show would continue to air, but the air time would be paid for by his campaign committee.
Redfield emphasized that he planned to run a civil campaign and said he had "the utmost respect" for Christensen, who he said has "worked very hard for the territory," but believes he is the best candidate for the job. He also said he respected Stacey Plaskett, who is challenging Christensen in the Democratic Party primary, and Vince Danet, who is competing with Redfield for the Republican candidacy.
Born in New York, Redfield has lived on St. Croix for more than 40 years and served as a Republican in the V.I. Legislature for six terms. He currently hosts the talk radio show “Straight Talk with Redfield" on 970 WSTX AM.
A licensed commercial pilot since 1966, he flew with Antilles Airboats in the Virgin Islands and served in the U.S. Coast Guard.
In the corporate world, Redfield has been part of the top management of General Engineering Corp., a major engineering contracting firm in the territory, and was director of government affairs and personnel for Vitelco during the tenure of former owner Jeffrey Prosser. He has also been a real estate broker, and owner and operator of Redfield and Associates.
Redfield first ran for the V.I. Legislature in 1978, according to his campaign website. After three unsuccessful attempts, he won a seat in the V.I. Legislature in 1984, in the 16th Legislature and served five consecutive terms, skipped a term, then served a sixth term in the 22nd Legislature. He has served as a member and as chairman of the V.I. Public Services Commission.
He ran for lieutenant governor in 1994, with Superior Court Judge Julio Brady on the top of the ticket.
Barring some surprise development, Redfield and other challengers face an uphill battle taking on a popular eight-term incumbent who has rarely seen serious competition in the party primary or in the general election.
In 2010, Christensen — sharing the field with three competitors — pulled in 71.2 percent, of the votes cast. In 2008, she ran unopposed. In 2004 and 2006, she trounced well-financed independent challenger Warren Mosler by double-digit margins. Worsening economic conditions such as the territory is facing have historically worked in favor of electoral challengers, however.