Comrades bitterly divided in East Portland
A run-off between the sitting member of parliament and the person wanting to replace him was expected to settle the dispute, but the fight over who should represent the People's National Party (PNP) in the relatively safe seat of East Portland seems far from over.
Instead, the PNP is approaching the looming general election with supporters in the constituency, which it won by 1,246 votes in 2011, divided and adamant that the person of their choice should be the one on the ballot as the
Since the defeat of sitting Member of Parliament Dr Lynvale Bloomfield by Andrea Moore in a selection contest on September 6, the support base of the PNP has been split, with some Comrades threatening to either stay away from the polls or to support the Jamaica Labour Party's candidate Derron Wood.
"Support for the PNP has been split right down the middle," said veteran PNP councillor Dexter Rowland, who supported Bloomfield in the internal election.
"Wounds have opened up and the healing process is going to be slow. I am a party person and I believe that the PNP can accomplish the impossible. My support for the MP was strictly on the basis that I was unfamiliar with Moore.
"People are hurt over the loss suffered by the MP, and many have vowed not to support the winner. East Portland is a PNP stronghold, and as a party person, if Moore's position is ratified I will be supporting her. But for others it will take a long time to heal," added Roland.
He charged that the challenge to Bloomfield is having serious implications on the PNP base in Portland and this could compromise the party's future in the next general election and the local government election.
"The support for the two candidates in the selection was split evenly among the four councillors. Benny White and I supported the MP while Elaine Osbourne and Mayor Wayne McKenzie supported Moore.
"We lost by eight votes, but had I put in place the necessary groundwork for the formation of active groups, which is required by the party, the result would have been different," said Rowland.
More than 80 registered delegates did not participate in the selection, with some Comrades claiming that while they were not impressed with the leadership style of Bloomfield to give him their support, they were not willing to back a virtually unknown in Moore.
Following her victory, Moore vowed to work with those who supported Bloomfield to ensure a PNP victory whenever the election is called.
"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," said Moore.
Bloomfield also called for unity even as he noted that his loss in the election did not mean he would be automatically replaced.
"We have to move on in a unified way. It is not the final selection for who will run in the next general election, and this must be very clear. We will work together to ensure that the party wins the seat in the next general election," said Bloomfield.
But despite the promise of unity the divide remains wide, with the rift playing out during the public session of the PNP's 77th annual conference last week.
Some Comrades from East Portland turned up at the National Arena with Moore's picture on their T-shirts while others were clad in garments declaring their backing of Bloomfield.
The leadership of the PNP is expected to decide on a candidate for the constituency when its National Executive Council meets today.