Tue | Sep 28, 2021

Vaz leads - Poll shows JLP candidate in command of East Portland by-election race

Published:Monday | April 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Ann-Marie Vaz, the Jamaica Labour Party candidate in the Eastern Portland by-election.
Damian Crawford, PNP candidate for East Portland

The People’s National Party (PNP) could find itself losing a parliamentary seat it has held for the past 30 years come Thursday as the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Ann-Marie Vaz is leading her rival, Damion Crawford, in the East Portland race.

This was revealed in the latest RJRGLEANER-Don Anderson poll conducted in the consti-tuency last week.

Eastern Portland is considered by many to be a PNP safe seat, with the party having won it by more than 2,000 votes in the February 2016 general election and by considerable margins over the past 30 years.

But with days left before the April 4 by-election, the survey done by pollster Don Anderson shows Vaz with a 6.7-percentage-point lead over Crawford, the firebrand PNP vice-president parachuted into the constituency following the slaying of sitting Member of Parliament Dr Lynvale Bloomfield in February.

With a margin of error of plus or minus five per cent, the poll, conducted between March 26 and March 29, in which 508 persons were interviewed, found 40.7 per cent of voters indicating that they would support Vaz and 34 per cent saying they would rally behind Crawford.

Nineteen per cent of those polled had not yet made up their minds as to who would get their votes, while 6.3 per cent said they would not cast a ballot.

The two camps have made Eastern Portland ground zero over the past month, with the PNP seeking to convince voters to extend the party’s three-decade reign in the constituency and the JLP touting a message of change.

The poll revealed that Crawford gets his strongest support (26 per cent) from those who believe that he has a vision and a plan for the constituency. Twenty-two per cent indicated that they would vote for him because they were traditional PNP supporters, while 13 per cent said that they support him because he believes in education.

On the other hand, 33 per cent of those who said that they would vote for the self-styled ‘Action Ann’ said she has demonstrated that she will work in the constituency. Eighteen per cent said that the area needs change, while 13 per cent said that they were traditional JLP supporters.

A victory for Vaz in Thursday’s election would see her creating history by becoming the first female member of parliament to serve that constituency. She would join her husband, Daryl, who represents the neighbouring West Portland constituency, in Gordon House. They would both join Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his wife Juliet Holness as husbands and wives currently sitting in Parliament.

A win for Crawford, on the other hand, would see the dreadlocked politician returning to the Lower House, having previously represented East Rural St Andrew while serving as state minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.

In 2017, the JLP snatched the South East St Mary seat from the PNP in a hotly contested by-election following the passing of Member of Parliament Dr Winston Green.