St. John Senator at Large Craig Barshinger told everyone his last election as Senator at Large would be just that – his last – and Barshinger is a man of his word.
Now, Sen. Barshinger is trying to find his successor in the crowded field of wannabes – or to promote his own choice.
Barshinger, the first non-native St. Johnian Senator at Large, said he is not running for another term because of family matters related to the death of his father which he has been unable to attend to becausdeof his senate duties.
Gadfly Turned Legislative Leader
A gadfly turned legislative leader, Sen. Barshinger still challenges the territory’s political leadership, but he isn’t putting aside his interest in island politics.
“I’m not running,” Sen. Barshinger said succinctly. “I told everyone last time that I wouldn’t run again.”
Sen. Barshinger did sound like an interested party when he stopped by the Tradewinds office in The Marketplace in mid-January, in his bright red V.I. Legislature shirt, and opined about the forthcoming political transition.
“Who will run to replace me?” Sen. Barshinger asked himself.
A number of St. Johnians have historically competed for the Senator at Large position, which requires name recognition and physical presence on the “Big Island” of St. Croix and in the capitol, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.
Barshinger earned the position through years of groundwork and he knows it will take a candidate with name recognition on all three islands to replace him.
Sen. Barshinger, while acknowledging recent St. John candidates for Senator at Large such as Ronnie Jones, threw a new name into the conversation with a mention of former V.I. Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards, who is married to St. Johnian Avelino Samuel.
“I think Pam Richards would be a great candidate,” said Sen. Barshinger who also mentioned former Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Andy Rutnik as a potential candidate.
Is Barshinger Eying Delegate Position?
As hard as it may be to envision St. John politics without Craig Barshinger tilting at windmills, there was a ray of hope that his days on the political hustings are not at an end.
On Sunday, January 19, Sen. Barshinger had an early question for USVI Delegate to Congress Dr. Donna (Christian) Christensen after she addressed the annual meeting of the Friends of the V.I. National park on St. John.
“Del. Christensen, have you made a decision on running for governor?” the outspoken Senator at Large asked Delegate Christensen, now in her ninth term.
The Delegate demured.
“Soon come,” Del. Christensen answered with a smile. Earlier the delegate had acknowledged to Tradewinds that it would be nice to “come home” after almost 20 years working in the nation’s capitol.
But she did speak of things of local political significance to St. Johnians.
“St. John children need a new school,” Del. Christensen told the audience of almost 100 residents and visitors to a round of applause at the end of her presentation.