East Portland delegates want Moore - Buchanan survives in St Bess
Incumbent member of parliament for East Portland, Lynvale Bloomfield, suffered a massive blow yesterday, losing out to challenger Andrea Moore in a nail-biting, intra-party selection exercise in the constituency.
Bloomfield polled 133 votes to Moore's 141, to lose by just eight votes in a contest that saw 274 of 360 delegates of the People's National Party (PNP) casting their ballots at the Port Antonio High School under the intense heat and extremely humid conditions.
"This is a victory for the PNP," declared Moore after the results were announced.
"Today, the delegates have spoken. However, this is just the beginning. I will be working tirelessly to unite party supporters in this constituency, as we seek to continue the party's dominance in East Portland."
Bloomfield's loss came shortly after another incumbent PNP MP, Hugh Buchanan, survived a similar vote in the party's St Elizabeth South West representative ahead of the general election widely expected by year end.
Buchanan beat back challenger Ewan Stephenson by 14 votes at yesterday afternoon's selection, receiving 147 votes from delegates to Stephenson's 133.
There was one spoilt ballot out of the 281 delegates who voted.
Three hundred and forty-six delegates were eligible to participate.
Buchanan had won the seat from the Jamaica Labour Party's Dr Chris Tufton by 13 votes in 2011.
On the weekend, he told The Sunday Gleaner that he was confident that when the race was over, he would remain the party's pointman for the constituency in the general election.
"The delegates have told me not to worry because I will be safe. I have been meeting and discussing with them what we have been doing as a government and how it is impacting their lives," Buchanan had said. "In spite of the difficulties, they have assured me that they want me to continue doing the job."
Back in East Portland, Moore said: "The healing process has to begin now, as it is quite evident that some supporters of the member of parliament are not happy with the result. There can be no divisiveness among us as Comrades and, despite the results, we have to unite for the task ahead."
Bloomfield defeated the JLP's Patrick Lee by 1,246 votes in the 2011 general election after replacing the PNP's Donald Rhodd, who decide not to seek re-election in the constituency.
Yesterday, the tension among party supporters was clear throughout the day, forcing Region Two Chairman Dr Morais Guy, while announcing the East Portland results, to appeal to disgruntled Comrades for calm.
"Comrades the delegates have made their decision," he told angered supporters. "This was a democratic process, and despite the outcome, we are still members and supporters of the PNP. This decision will stand, and the voting process was transparent."
But despite the appeal for calm by Guy, some of Bloomfield's supporters have vowed that they will not get behind the new candidate, threatening instead to support the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the next parliamentary election.
The victory for Moore comes at a time when there are concerns among some delegates about Bloomfield's leadership style.
"There was never any doubt that my team would have won," said Port Antonio Mayor Wayne McKenzie, who also supported Moore.
"The MP's performance was always under scrutiny, and it was only a matter of time before the delegates would have made the decision to have him removed. Today's victory, however, is not about Bloomfield or Moore, but rather about the people of this constituency," he said.