Nov. 7, 2006 — Gubernatorial candidate John deJongh and running mate Gregory Francis missed out on claiming the territory's top political office Tuesday night by a mere 0.7 percent, and will probably face the team of Kenneth Mapp and Almondo Liburd in a Nov. 21 runoff election.
According to unofficial results from the V.I. Election System, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, deJongh received 15,914 votes or 49.33 percent, while Mapp garnered 8,756 votes or 27.14 percent. Third-place in the election went to the team of Adlah Donastorg and Dr. Cora Christian, who managed to get 7,580 votes, or 23.49 percent.
DeJongh needed an outright majority — at least 50 percent plus one vote — to win the election, but missed the mark by roughly 0.7 percent or 1,062 votes.
That could change on Wednesday when the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix Boards of Election count up the absentee votes that were mailed, faxed or brought in by hand before Tuesday's election. There are a total of 1,689 absentee votes 982 for the St. Thomas-St. John District and 707 in the St. Croix District. If deJongh gets 1,062 absentee votes, he could win the election and avoid a runoff with Mapp.
Even though deJongh did not get a victory Tuesday night, he and his supporters were upbeat and optimistic about the election returns.
"I defiantly look at this as a victory," deJongh said from his home Tuesday
night. "The choice now is very clear."
Later, at his St. Thomas headquarters, deJongh told his cheering supporters," We need you to find it one more time. We got more than 15,000 votes in a three-way race. You should be proud."
DeJongh was optimistic about a victory on Nov. 21.
Supporters danced the electric slide to the Sea Breeze Band as deJongh and his wife, Cecile, made their way through the well-wishers lined up to
Mapp did not see the absentee votes as making a difference in Tuesday's results, and said his team was committed to continuing the campaign.
"We will wait to hear the outcome of the absentee votes, but we see a runoff," said Mapp in a phone interview Tuesday night.
Earlier in a Radio One interview, Mapp said that a runoff would force both candidates to really discuss the problems that face the territory.
"It's an opportunity to get back out into the community to crystallize some
of the issues," said Mapp.
The campaign for Governor's House has been a fairly issue-oriented race, with hardly any negative campaigning. All three candidates have participated in several debates territorywide, where serious issues like crime prevention, education and the economy took precedence over sniping and backbiting.
There have been some nonpolitical issues raised in the local media during the last weeks of the campaign Donastorg faced accusations that he had not been forthcoming about his educational background, while Mapp was the focus of questions about his handing of the King's Alley Hotel project in Christiansted.
DeJongh faced a bit of a media firestorm because his wife, Cecile, is an employee of an Economic Development Commission (EDC) company whose owner, Jeffery Epstein, was arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution back in July. DeJongh was also criticized by some for not releasing his income tax returns when Mapp and Donastorg turned over their records for public scrutiny. Even the release of the income tax returns raised some eyebrows, because Mapp's records went back five years, while Donastorg released records going back eight years.
Tuesday night in an interview with TV 2, Donastorg said that even though he and Christian ran a "different" type of campaign, he did not have all the resources needed to get his message to the people. But he said that his campaign demonstrated he could "hold his own" in the gubernatorial arena.
Both deJongh and Mapp thanked their campaign workers for all the support and votes. Mapp commended his opponents for fighting a good campaign and for sticking to the issues.
The two candidates seemed more than ready to continue their race to be the next governor of the Virgin Islands.
"With the choice clear, Greg [Francis] and I are ready to reach out to the voters who didn't vote for us," said deJongh to his supporters at his St. Thomas headquarters Tuesday night.
"There will obviously be no sleep for members of the team," said Mapp as he looked forward to a potential runoff.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.