Senator vs. Governor—in a Match to be Determined by Penalty Kicks

St. Croix, Virgin Islands, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ — Whoever coined the phrase, “Politics is just a game” must have known what he or she was talking about because it has turned out to be precisely that in the United States Virgin Islands, where Democratic senator, Wayne A.G. James, and the territory’s Democratic governor, John P. de Jongh, will face-off in a penalty kick-type override segment of the September 20, 2010 Legislative Session in the territory’s capital, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. If James succeeds in getting 10 of his 15 senatorial colleagues—11 of which are Democrats—to agree to the override, the amendment will become law. If he doesn’t, the game is over.

The match-up began exactly one month before, on August 20, 2010, when Governor de Jongh vetoed Senator James’s amendment to appropriate $50,000 of U.S. Virgin Islands taxpayers’ dollars to sponsor the mid-level soccer team of Montescudaio, Italy, the 12th-century Tuscan village famous for its wines, for the purpose of promoting the Virgin Islands as a summer destination in Italy, the territory’s 4th-largest source of tourists—and its biggest, per capita, visitor-spenders.

The seemingly unlikely bond between the three historic towns of the Virgin Islands, namely Christiansted, Frederiksted, and Charlotte Amalie, world-famous for their rum production, and Montescudaio were formally forged in December of 2009 when the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, led by Senator James, passed Resolution No. 1744, which established a twin-city relationship between the three towns of the Virgin Islands and the idyllic Italian village for the purposes of promoting trade, tourism, and friendship. And on July 4, 2010, in a formal ceremony led by Montescudaio’s mayor, Aurelio Pellegrini, the Italian equivalent of James’s resolution was signed into law in Italy.

The concept of a small, Caribbean destination investing $50,000 in the mid-level soccer team of a small, Italian village in order to attract Italian tourists to tropical beaches and Caribbean sunshine has led, to say the least, to much discussion—and even more press coverage—across America, the Caribbean, Europe, and, indeed, the world.

“Soccer is Italy’s favorite pastime,” James said. “It is a way of life there. And if you want to sell something to Italians—even pristine, sandy beaches thousands of miles away—soccer is a good starting point.”

And, apparently, James is right because not only have news agencies across the world such as Yahoo, the San Francisco Business Times, and Reuters reported on the unique collaboration, but also have news agencies in Italy—from the Vatican’s FM station to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy’s internationally renowned “Bible” of sports journalism. And within hours after an August 3, 2010 press release was issued from James’s senatorial office on St. Croix announcing the Virgin Islands Legislature’s July 27, 2010 appropriation of the $50,000, approximately 70 million potential visitors the world over had access to the information.

But bear in mind that James is no stranger to creating unique marketing approaches. In 1987, while in his last semester of law school at prestigious Georgetown University, he presented his first collection of fashion to the New York fashion press, and the lawyer-designer combination instantly launched his fashion career, resulting, within a handful of years, in commissions from Pope John Paul II, Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, and Diana, Princess of Wales. And in 1999, James rekindled international interest in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade when he placed a monument onto the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in recognition of the estimated millions of African people who perished crossing the Atlantic’s infamous Middle Passage en route to enslavement in the Americas between the 15th and 19th centuries.

“I had to learn marketing—and quickly—as the president of my own fashion business,” James said. “When you are using your own money in business, you use it wisely and efficiently. And you quickly learn that your dresses are going to get more attention if advertised in an upscale hardware magazine than in an upscale fashion magazine. Successful marketing is all about interesting marketing.

“We haven’t sent the Italians a dime of that $50,000 yet, but we have already seen the potential impact for expanding our summer-tourist product,” James continued. “The Italians are perfect candidates for summer tourism: they take the whole month of August off, and they tend to eat in the territory’s best restaurants and stay in our best hotels. Since November of 2009, the Virgin Islands has seen a steady stream of publicity—to the tune of scores of articles—in two of Tuscany’s largest newspapers, Il Tirreno and Corriere di Livorno. And I am sure that will translate into increased visitorship this coming winter and next summer. And not only will the sponsorship-marketing be good for business, it will be great for the development of our twin-city relationship,” James added.

But for now, everything rests on James’s ability to garner support from at least 10 of his colleagues. “We are now down to the penalty-kicks phase of this game,” James said. “It is now sudden-death. It is senator versus governor, down to the final goal, and it is exciting,” James concluded.

Incidentally, US Montescudaio has remained undefeated thus far this season, with a record of three wins and two draws. And James just won the September 11th Democratic Primary Election, though barely. But considering that he spent a mere $202.00 on the election, he scored big.