Why the PNP is banking on Cornwall Mountain Division
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Paul Buchanan was the People's National Party’s (PNP) standard bearer for Central Westmoreland and was set to enter the general elections race of 2007 when Roger Clarke left his North East St Elizabeth seat to replace him on the party's ticket.
At the time, opinion polls suggested Buchanan could lose the seat to Russell Hammond of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Clarke, known as the Red Poll Bull, was given the task of saving the PNP’s blushes.
He would win the election and Buchanan had to wait until 2011 to make a run for Parliament.
He did so successfully in East Rural St Andrew, but despite moving away from Westmoreland he still claims to understand the dynamics of the constituency.
"All the PDs (polling divisions) that I have visited, we are holding our own in terms of the last trend," Buchanan told The Gleaner just before midday.
Dwayne Vaz of the PNP is up against the JLP's Faye Reid Jacobs in today's by-election to replace Clarke, who died in August.
"I know there is a little passion on the JLP side but it is positive for us all around," said Buchanan, while arguing that Vaz brings freshness and loyalty among the youth on both sides of the political divide.
Clarke won the seat by 3,042 votes in 2011, and Buchanan says that as long as the PNP keeps Cornwall Mountain victory is assured.
"Once we hold Cornwall Mountain then we will hold the numbers that Roger Clarke had ... if we don't then you will see a decrease in the margin. We will not lose so much that would cause any consternation,” he added.
In Cornwall Mountain, Clarke had polled 2,312 votes and Marlene Malahoo Forte of the JLP, 1,858.
"There might be a little slackening off based on my experience, but the margin would be sufficient to give the party the momentum to go forward. The JLP knows the PNP losing is out of the question,” he said.
“The JLP is hoping that we see sufficient slackening off to give them the momentum. That is the acid test, but if Cornwall Mountain holds, that is out of the picture," Buchanan said.
WATCH: GLEANER MINUTE