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‘Dunkley’s supporters were sure he was going to run for leader’

Senator Michael Dunkley’s decision not to run for the One Bermuda Alliance leadership was a last-minute decision which left his supporters shocked, according to party sources.Sen Dunkley was widely expected to challenge Senator Craig Cannonier and Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards for the top job despite senior party members urging him to step aside to avoid infighting.However, it’s understood moments before Wednesday night’s application deadline he instead opted to run for deputy leader, while supporting Sen Cannonier’s bid for leadership.Party members had been concerned a Dunkley-Cannonier battle would split the fledgling party, with Sen Dunkley drawing support from former United Bermuda Party members and Sen Cannonier from ex-Bermuda Democratic Alliance members.Some were also worried electing a former UBP leader would leave critics claiming the OBA is a reincarnation of the party which lost three successive elections to the Progressive Labour Party.One party insider told The Royal Gazette: “Dunkley’s supporters were sure he was going to run for leader, right up to the last minute. That’s what he’d indicated he was going to do. They were pretty shocked when they found out he wasn’t.“Nobody seems to know why he didn’t go for it. They’ve read his reason that he wants to stay in Smith’s North, but that doesn’t seem reason enough on its own.”Sen Dunkley told caucus members in a letter he didn’t want to quit Constituency Ten, where he’s hoping to fight at the next election; if he was leader he would be required to move to the Devonshire South Central seat being vacated by outgoing interim leader John Barritt.He stated: “Now is not the time to walk away from that commitment to serving the people of Smith’s North.“As convincing as some of your arguments to put my name forward for leader were, I feel strongly that now is the time to finish that job. This was the overriding fact in making the decision.”Sen Dunkley could not be reached yesterday.Sen Cannonier will challenge Mr Richards for leader, and Sen Dunkley will challenge Shadow Attorney General Trevor Moniz for deputy at next Saturday’s conference at Fairmont Southampton.The OBA will hold advance polls at party headquarters on Reid Street on Tuesday and Thursday, between noon and 1pm and on Thursday, September 8. Members must bring photo ID and proof of travel.Useful websites: www.oba.bm