4 incumbents move forward to General Election

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ST. THOMAS - Democrats in the St. Thomas-St. John District selected the party's slate of seven candidates to run for Senate in November, however, sitting Sen. Clarence Payne was not among them.

Payne, currently serving his first term in the Senate, came in ninth, according to the unofficial results from Saturday's primary election.

With 625 walk-in absentee ballots and a potential 174 mail-in absentee ballots still left to count before the election is certified, the final tallies could change.

Only 93 votes separate Payne from seventh place winner Marvin Blyden and only 47 votes separate Payne from eighth place finisher Sean Georges.

The rest of the incumbent senators running in the Democratic primary - Sen. Clifford Graham, Sen. Donald Cole, Sen. Myron Jackson, and Sen. Janette Millin Young - have held on to their seats, at least until the General Election.

Graham was the top vote-getter with 2,413 votes.

He was not concerned about that Saturday night, however, he was just happy to have made it through to the next election.

"I want to thank the voters that came out that overwhelming supported me despite the weather today," he said. "We began a year and seven months ago to define a new quality of life here in the territory and keep ourselves fiscally responsible."

Jackson, who was the only other senator besides Graham to crack the 2,000 mark in number of votes, came in second with 2,132.

"I want to thank the voters of the St. Thomas-St. John District that went out under very harsh weather conditions," he said. "I want to thank them for recognizing that I do have their best interests at heart."

Third place finisher was Jean Forde, who narrowly lost the primary two years ago by only a handful of votes.

"I'm certainly overwhelmed with gratitude," he said, thanking his team and in particular his daughter, who served as his campaign manager.

"The position of third is certainly somewhat comfortable, but beside that I think last year was a different ball game, last year I was new to it and I learned quite a lot," Forde said.

"It's a long haul, because we have been campaigning pretty much for the whole year," he said. "But I have had fun doing what I do, I love going out there and hearing from the people and sharing ideas. We work hard, but we play hard too."

Young, who came in fourth with 1,876 votes, said she appreciated her fellow Democrats who showed their commitment to the process by coming out to vote Saturday.

"I'm grateful that the people saw it fit to give me a chance to go into the General Election and to continue my work on economic development issues," she said.

Justin Harrigan Sr., who also narrowly missed making it through the Democratic primary in 2012, said it felt good to come in a strong fifth place with 1,793 votes.

"It feels good, I'm a little exhausted, because this is some undertaking, but I'm really proud that the voters saw that I am really for the people," Harrigan said. "I thank the voters and ask for their support going forward and I'm going to try my best to be victorious in November."

Cole came in sixth with 1,757 votes. He said he was grateful for the voters who came out despite the bad weather.

"I look forward to, in the next couple of months, continue to advocate for the District of St. Thomas and St. John," Cole said. "I am one that believes that this district is being left behind, because of the total domination of the St. Croix senators. That is something I will be doing in the next couple of months, making sure that the voices of this district be heard."

Seventh place finisher Marvin Blyden garnered 1,622 votes on Saturday.

He also ran in 2012, but was not close to the top seven chosen to head to the General Election.

"It feels real humbling and it feels good, I'm elated," he said. "After you put in so much hard work, and sacrifices, to see it paid off, it feels real good."

He said he felt his committee and himself did the necessary ground work to win a spot on the Nov. 4 ballot.

"I am satisfied, you have to put in the work to get the results," Blyden said.

The seven Democrats will face nine no party, ICM and Republican senatorial candidates in the general election, including incumbent Sen. Tregenza Roach, to win one of the seven district Senate seats.

Payne could not be reached for comment.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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