( L - R ) CLARKE, HAMMOND
Roger Clarke, who served as Minister of Agriculture and Lands in the last People's National Party (PNP) administration, proved too much for the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Russell Hammond when he won the Central Westmoreland seat yesterday.
Hammond, who challenged and lost the Western Westmoreland seat to the PNP's Dr. Kenneth McNeill twice - 4,335 to 8,755 on the JLP's ticket in 1989 and 3,265 to 8,519 when he represented the National Democratic Movement in 1997 - went down again to Clarke who was placed in the constituency just months ahead of the polls.
Clarke previously represented the PNP in North Eastern St. Elizabeth where he defeated Basil Perriel by a 10,058 to 4,239 margin in his first appearance in 1997 and again in 2002 when he defeated the same opponent 8,532 to 5,211.
Midway his second term as North Eastern St. Elizabeth, Clarke, who was at one time battling ill health, indicated that he was ready to retire from representational politics.
However, after marshalling the campaign of Portia Simpson Miller in her successful bid for the presidency of the PNP, he was persuaded to shelve his retirement plans and remain in politics.
He was selected to run in Central Westmoreland, replacing Dr. Karl Blythe who resigned earlier.
Based on the recent history of the Central Westmoreland seat, which comprises the parish council divisions of Petersfield, Frome, Savanna-la-Mar North and Cornwall Mountain, many thought that any other result besides a PNP win would be tantamount to breaching a garrison. The previous three general elections saw Dr. Blythe winning handsomely for the PNP: 1989 - 8,021 to 4,324 against Dr. Carl Jones; 1997 - 10,863 to 6,446 against Trevor Brooks; and in 2002 - 9,598 to 6,498 against Brooks.