Butterfield and Burt face a constituency selection rematch
Minister Neletha Butterfield and Senator David Burt are set to go head-to-head in a rematch after Thursday night’s controversial candidates selection meeting in Pembroke West Central, according to sources.
The pair’s contest at West Pembroke Primary School ended with no result amid allegations Ms Butterfield’s 17-year-old grandson took part in the vote.
Party rules state members must be 18 or older to vote in the series of meetings currently determining the Progressive Labour Party’s field of candidates for the next general election.
It’s understood an appeal was lodged and that senior party members are set to announce a second vote on a date to be fixed in the coming weeks.
Ms Butterfield, the Estates Minister, is hoping to hold on to the House of Assembly seat she has held since 1998, with Sen Burt, the Junior Finance Minister, seeking to take advantage of rule changes making it easier for newcomers to challenge incumbents.
On Thursday night, the first count produced a 35-35 tie, with a recount favouring Ms Butterfield 35-34. However, later it emerged at least one voter should not have been allowed to participate according to the party constitution.
It’s believed until recently the rules allowed for 16-year-old members to vote, and that the discrepancy wasn’t picked up until after the votes had been counted.
Meanwhile, the party refused to comment on reports Constituency 21 winner Rolfe Commissiong has been deemed unelectable by his new branch chairman Kyjuan Brown.
The Bermuda Sun printed details from an e-mail Dr Brown sent to Premier Paula Cox saying the branch executive would not support Mr Commissiong, stressing he’d only been selected by 21 out of thousands of people living in Pembroke South East.
This newspaper understands Mr Commissiong scored lower than former United Bermuda Party Constituency 21 candidate Tillman Darrell in a recent poll carried out by the PLP. He also polled worse than sitting MP Ashfield DeVent and Senator Jonathan Smith, two of the challengers he defeated on Tuesday night.
The party’s central committee will make the final decision over the candidates, but it’s understood branch votes will only be overruled in extreme circumstances.
Long-serving Sandys North Central MP Dennis Lister is the next sitting MP to face a challenge, on Monday, when he takes on executive officer Dawn Simmons at St James Church Hall, Somerset.
West End sources say Mr Lister, an MP since 1989, has been under threat for some time, with Ms Simmons described as a hard worker who is well known in the branch.
Another important battle takes place in Pembroke Central on Tuesday night, between National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief and former Senator Walton Brown.
Mr Brown has been openly targeting the seat for at least a year, but Mr Perinchief, an MP since 1998, is said to have strengthened his position following his elevation to Cabinet in April.
Also on Tuesday, one of the most eye-catching contests sees former United Bermuda Party leader Wayne Furbert challenged by his cousin, Senator LaVerne Furbert, and former Bermuda Football Association executive member Charles Clarke.
Mr Furbert is boosted by many former UBP supporters who have followed him into the PLP since he completed his journey across the floor in March last year; Sen Furbert has long been of the Island’s harshest critics of her cousin’s former party.
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