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THIS TIME, V.I. HAS A VOTE IN CONGRESS

Oct. 9, 2001 – The Virgin Islands usually has no say when major American political decisions are made — such as the election of the president. But Delegate Donna Christian Christensen will be one of the decision-makers on Thursday when she votes for the new Democratic Party Whip in the House of Representatives.
It may sound like an obscure position, Democratic Whip of the House, but people holding that job often later become the Speaker of the House, one of the most important political posts in the nation. Carl Albert, Tip O'Neil and Tom Foley are among those who had been Democratic Whips before becoming Speaker.
The V.I. delegate, according to her staff, will vote for Nancy Pelosi, a liberal Democratic congresswoman from San Francisco. Pelosi is running against a moderate Democrat from the Maryland suburbs, Steny Hoyer. Both are seeking to fill the position being vacated by David Bonior, a liberal Michigan Democrat who will be leaving the House next year to run for governor of Michigan.
According to The Washington Post, Pelosi appears to be leading Hoyer in number of pledged supporters, but since voting is to be secret ballot on Thursday, pledges are no guarantee of who will win.
While the Virgin Islands is represented by a delegate who cannot vote on the floor of the House, she and the other island-territory delegates do vote in the Democratic Caucus (none are Republicans), and thus Christensen will be one of 215 people voting Thursday.
The Whip is the de facto deputy leader of the Democrats in the House when they are — as they are now — in the minority. The minority Whip often moves up to become the minority party's floor leader and, when the minority party becomes the majority, to become the Speaker.
The election of a Speaker every two years is fore-ordained by the composition of the House: The candidate of the majority party will win. But the party Whip race is an open one — and winners remember favorably those who supported them in these contests, even after the contests have faded into history.
Christensen's expected vote for Pelosi reminds old political hands of a contest for the Democratic floor leadership in 1977. In that contest, V.I. Delegate Ron de Lugo and all the other island delegates voted for the legendary, island-loving Congressman Phil Burton, but he lost by a single vote to Texan Jim Wright, who later moved up to be Speaker. Pelosi, winning her first election in 1987, succeeded Phil Burton's late widow, Sala Burton, in the House.

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Oct. 9, 2001 - The Virgin Islands usually has no say when major American political decisions are made -- such as the election of the president. But Delegate Donna Christian Christensen will be one of the decision-makers on Thursday when she votes for the new Democratic Party Whip in the House of Representatives.
It may sound like an obscure position, Democratic Whip of the House, but people holding that job often later become the Speaker of the House, one of the most important political posts in the nation. Carl Albert, Tip O'Neil and Tom Foley are among those who had been Democratic Whips before becoming Speaker.
The V.I. delegate, according to her staff, will vote for Nancy Pelosi, a liberal Democratic congresswoman from San Francisco. Pelosi is running against a moderate Democrat from the Maryland suburbs, Steny Hoyer. Both are seeking to fill the position being vacated by David Bonior, a liberal Michigan Democrat who will be leaving the House next year to run for governor of Michigan.
According to The Washington Post, Pelosi appears to be leading Hoyer in number of pledged supporters, but since voting is to be secret ballot on Thursday, pledges are no guarantee of who will win.
While the Virgin Islands is represented by a delegate who cannot vote on the floor of the House, she and the other island-territory delegates do vote in the Democratic Caucus (none are Republicans), and thus Christensen will be one of 215 people voting Thursday.
The Whip is the de facto deputy leader of the Democrats in the House when they are -- as they are now -- in the minority. The minority Whip often moves up to become the minority party's floor leader and, when the minority party becomes the majority, to become the Speaker.
The election of a Speaker every two years is fore-ordained by the composition of the House: The candidate of the majority party will win. But the party Whip race is an open one -- and winners remember favorably those who supported them in these contests, even after the contests have faded into history.
Christensen's expected vote for Pelosi reminds old political hands of a contest for the Democratic floor leadership in 1977. In that contest, V.I. Delegate Ron de Lugo and all the other island delegates voted for the legendary, island-loving Congressman Phil Burton, but he lost by a single vote to Texan Jim Wright, who later moved up to be Speaker. Pelosi, winning her first election in 1987, succeeded Phil Burton's late widow, Sala Burton, in the House.