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National Security Minister loses PLP primary to Walton Brown

National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief last night failed to get reselected as the Progressive Labour Party candidate for his Pembroke Central constituency, losing out to former Senator Walton Brown.

Mr Perinchief is understood to have picked up just eight votes at the branch election for Constituency 17 at Alaska Hall, with his rival gaining the support of 17 branch members.

PLP backbencher Wayne Furbert fared much better in Hamilton West, easily seeing off a challenge from two other party members keen to represent constituency six at the next general election. He is understood to have got the backing of 69 branch members, while Charles Clarke picked up 14 votes and Senator LaVerne Furbert got eight.

The final decision on who will represent the PLP in all constituencies at the next general election will be made by the party's central committee, but results from the primaries currently being held are only likely to be overturned in exceptional circumstances.

Mr Perinchief, 69, is the first Cabinet Minister to have his seat threatened by the result of a primary, though the futures of several sitting MPs beyond the next general election have been called into question.

PLP backbenchers Ashfield DeVent and Darius Tucker both lost out to challengers in their constituencies in the last week, while House of Assembly Speaker Stanley Lowe didn't show up at the selection meeting for his Southampton East seat and Health Minister Zane DeSilva was instead selected.

At Alaska Hall last night, Mr Perinchief and Mr Brown both addressed a crowd of PLP members and MPs before branch members cast their votes.

While the party would not release details of the numbers in attendance or the votes cast,

The Royal Gazette understands that 25 of 48 branch members showed up to the meeting. Mr Brown, 51, said after the result: “I'm very grateful for the confidence that the people of the constituency, that the branch members, have shown in me. Now it's time to start the real work.”

Mr Brown, a historian, author and president of Research Innovations Ltd, lost out in the 2007 general election to Shawn Crockwell in the UBP stronghold of Pembroke West.

He was appointed to the Senate by his cousin Premier Ewart Brown, where he served as Junior Minister of Education, Energy, Telecommunications and E-Commerce.

He announced his intention to challenge Mr Perinchief for Pembroke Central last year, after Premier Paula Cox did not appoint him back to the Senate.

Mr Perinchief was first elected as an MP in 1998 in the Pembroke West constituency and was re-elected in 2003 and 2007 in Pembroke Central.

A former Assistant Police Commissioner and Minister of National Drug Control, Mr Perinchief accepted the position of National Security Minister earlier this year following the sudden resignation of David Burch.

Exiting Alaska Hall last night, Mr Perinchief said simply: “Democracy has spoken.”

In Hamilton West, meanwhile, a victorious Mr Furbert pledged to win back his seat for the Progressive Labour Party at the next general election.

He came out streets ahead of party rivals Sen Furbert and Mr Clarke in the contest at Temperance Hall, though would not comment on the scale of his victory.

He told this newspaper he felt great after winning in the constituency he has long represented.

“I prepared no script; I spoke from the heart,” he said of the speech he gave to the 91 branch members who turned out to vote. “These are people I have been with since I was 14, walking these hills with my father.

“I was there for them with the United Bermuda Party and I'll be with them for the Progressive Labour Party.

“Now I'm going to win this seat for the PLP and help win some other seats.”

He added: “I would like to thank Charles Clarke and La-Verne Furbert for entering this primary. It's democracy at its best. They fought a good fight.”

Mr Furbert's wife and his 26-year-old twin son and daughter waited outside the hall as the votes were counted last night.

They hugged him once his victory was announced just after 9pm, when the temperature inside the packed Temperance Hall on North Shore Road had hit a sweltering high.

Branch members flooded out to get some air after an hour-and-a-half long session during which they listened to speeches from all three candidates and asked them questions.

Tempers had risen earlier in the evening after Mr Clarke gave the first speech and was asked a question by Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess.

He answered angrily, though the full exchange between the two men was not audible outside the hall.

The pair came outside immediately afterwards, where Mr Clarke berated Mr Burgess, telling him “You did that intentionally” as the Public Works Minister tried to placate him.

Mr Clarke, 49, a retail manager for Cellular One and former Bermuda Football Association (BFA) executive, wouldn't comment on the spat later.

He stood in the marginal seat of Hamilton West for the PLP in the 2007 general election, losing by just 79 votes to Mr Furbert, who was then representing the UBP.

Before last night's vote, Mr Clarke told this newspaper he was “feeling fine” and was “back again to see if my branch and my people will give me the opportunity once again”.

“I got about 46 percent of the vote [in the last general election],” he said. “I'm about work. This is not about being someone's friend. It's about working for the constituents of Hamilton West.”

After the result, he said he was “definitely not disappointed”, adding: “I have been dedicated to wanting to serve Bermuda. At some point, it will be my chance. Those persons out there canvassing all the time, that paid off.”

Sen Furbert, 65, Mr Furbert's cousin, said she was nervous before the selection took place. Afterwards, she had no comment.

The result was not a surprise to many, as chartered accountant and businessman Mr Furbert was deemed to have a lot of local support. The 55-year-old has been a Hamilton Parish MP since 1993, apart from a five-year spell beginning in 1998, and led the UBP for just over a year in 2006/07.

He quit the Opposition party in December 2008 and was an independent MP until he crossed the floor and joined the PLP in March 2010.

Useful website: www.plp.bm.

Former Progressive Labour Party Senator Walton Brown is shown being congratulated by outgoing Parliamentarian Walter Lister inside Alaska Hall after Mr Brown won a party primary for Constituency 17 (Pembroke Central).

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Published September 28, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated September 28, 2011 at 8:32 am)

National Security Minister loses PLP primary to Walton Brown

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