Dickinson eases into the house that Rolfe built
One of the Progressive Labour Party's most important seats was the first to be retained last night as Curtis Dickinson held Pembroke South East.
The party's “determination” to keep the finance minister's place in the House of Assembly, in the seat Rolfe Commissiong held in the last Parliament, was confirmed by a member of the PLP team outside the polling station last night.
It was the first constituency to have its final count announced, just before 9.30pm. Mr Dickinson took 432 votes, 79.64 per cent, against 125 for Gavin Smith, the Free Democratic Movement contender, on 22.44 per cent.
Mr Dickinson may have gauged the mood in his favour as he did not linger at the Hamilton Seventh-day Adventist Church Hall after polls closed.
He said earlier: “I'm new to the constituency, but people have been welcoming.”
He added he had spent much of his childhood on nearby Dundonald Street and was “not a completely foreign entity to people”.
Mr Dickinson said he had been recognised on the doorsteps for his ministerial role — particularly as the pandemic-related economic crisis had topped voter worries.
He added: “The Government got generally complimented on its work around Covid-19, and a lot of people commended me on my work done as the Minister of Finance.”
Mr Smith said some FDM candidates had met “resistance” while canvassing, but that he had found people in the constituency to be welcoming.
He attributed a low voter turnout across the island to One Bermuda Alliance supporters not showing up at the polls.
Mr Smith predicted: “The results are going to be mixed across the board.
“Looking at the turnout through the day, it feels like the OBA base didn't show up.”
He said the FDM had made “a considerable impact” in many constituencies.
Mr Smith added: “The FDM has won already, when it comes to momentum. Something that didn't exist a month ago has become relevant. It's a good foundation for us to become a strong political force in the future.”
But he admitted the PLP had “a powerful political machine — they're a mature political party that knows how to work its people”.
The OBA held Pembroke South West, where Susan Jackson took three quarters of the votes, beating her PLP rival, Davida Morris.
The OBA candidate took 364 votes, 79.64 per cent of the vote, to Ms Morris's 160 votes or 20.36 per cent.
Ms Jackson said before the polls closed: “In 2020, I'm not taking anything for granted. This is not the year for me to speculate on anything.
“We have had just about every exception to the rule imaginable.”
Ms Jackson said many voters seemed “overwhelmed with the challenges we're facing — hurricanes, the pandemic, loss of jobs, even just lack of travel”.
In Pembroke East, which Walter Roban, of the PLP, also held, Scott Stewart, the OBA candidate, said: “As long as I've been involved, the voter concern has been the economy.”
Mr Stewart said he got a sense of “malaise in the community” and that voters had told him “2020 is becoming the worst year of our lives” — the Covid-19 pandemic, lost jobs and “the disintegration of the economy”.
A confident Mr Roban predicted at 5.30pm that “Team Green is going to be victorious” — referring to the PLP colours of green and white.
He said: “The Government already had a very secure mandate, but we're coming back to the people because the issues the country faces are more critical than before.”