Fred Mitchell yesterday soundly defeated former Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe to remain national chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in a landslide victory.
According to the unofficial results, Mitchell received 802 votes, while Wilchcombe received 338 votes.
During the second day of the party’s convention at the Melia Nassau Beach resort, senior PLPs, including former Prime Minister Perry Christie, former Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller, former Minister of State for Legal Affairs Damian Gomez and former Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, among others, trickled in to cast their ballots.
Some party delegates camped out at the hotel, socializing and waiting with bated breath for the results of the vote.
PLP Convention Chairman Michael Halkitis said about 1,500 delegates registered to vote.
This is the second consecutive win for Mitchell against Wilchcombe for the position.
“It’s an election and there are highs and lows,” Mitchell told reporters.
“I’m just pleased that the delegates saw the value of the work and it’s supported.
“And I’m pleased that the team that I’m a part of, headed by Philip Brave Davis, is returned in full, so that we can continue the work we’re doing.
“Many of the delegates have come and spoken to me about the way the campaign was conducted and they were pleased that I didn’t respond to anything that was said about me in any kind of personal sense. That’s something that I believe fully.
“I refused to say anything and I think that’s how it ought to be because you’re trying to run a political party and a political party has to encompass everybody regardless of what their particular positions are within the party and there’s a lot of work to do.”
In the days leading up to the convention, several flyers were circulated bashing Mitchell’s history in the party and his tenure as chairman.
In an interview with reporters on Thursday, Wilchcombe said that unlike Mitchell, he has never abandoned the party or said negative things about the party’s leadership.
Wilchcombe also said he doesn’t believe that Davis should have told reporters that he can’t win the chairmanship post.
On Tuesday, Davis told reporters that he didn’t think Wilchcombe should run, after calling for his team, consisting of Mitchell, Chester Cooper and Robyn Lynes, to run unopposed.
“…I don’t think he could win and he would not win,” Davis said.
As for the state of the party following the heated week, Mitchell insisted that while emotions still have to settle, the PLP remains energized and unified.
“It’s a happy occasion, there’s a lot of energy which has been brought to it,” he said.
“The contest has actually caused a lot of energy and people are going away with a renewed sense of vigor about the organization.
“One of the things that internal opposition does is it helps you to define who you are, because you withstand some pretty withering criticisms and you have to understand pretty firmly what you are and what the organization is.
“So it’s been a health thing.”
The PLP senator added that with this convention, the party was able to redefine itself, as well as “sing from the same hymn sheet”.
“The party is unified,” he said.
“I don’t think there is any issue. And I think what always governs these things is the personalities of these individuals. And if you look at Mr. Davis, his personality is not one to hold grudges and I certainly don’t have time for grudges. It’s done and I hope we all move forward… This is the past now.”
The party’s election process got off to a late start yesterday, due to a delay in configuring the voting rooms.
However, nearly 1,500 delegates were still able to cast their ballots.
“All reports are that people were able to vote, no long lines and the process was very smooth,” Halkitis said.
Mitchell’s re-election as national chairman is the final top post to be filled.
Hours after opening up the party’s 54th convention on Thursday, Davis and Cooper were returned as leader and deputy leader of the party, respectively, after running unopposed.
Lynes, who also ran unopposed, is now the party’s deputy chairman.