Jamaica: Rhodd favoured for Portland seat left vacant after MP’s murder

BY HG HELPS

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RHODD … served people of Portland Eastern for three terms

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Former Member of Parliament for Portland Eastern, Dr Donald Rhodd, is being courted to succeed late MP Dr Lynvale Bloomfield for the Opposition People’s National Party in the by-election due by March, Jamaica Observer sources have revealed.

Dr Rhodd, who served the people of that area for three terms (1997 to 2011) before deciding against contesting the seat in the 2011 General Election, is considered the man the party deems best suited for the role, due to his knowledge of the terrain, his unbeaten record as a representative of the people there, and his national profile.

Dr Rhodd’s fondness of, and close association with PNP President Dr Peter Phillips is also considered a determining factor, as it was widely believed that when he officially left representational politics on the eve of the 2011 General Election, it was felt that he did so, among other things, because he had little confidence in then PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, whom he opposed in favour of Phillips in the two party leadership races of 2006 and 2008.

However, party sources told the Sunday Observer that while Dr Rhodd, a former minister of state, has been asked to give the proposal serious consideration, should he accept, he would, among other things, insist that certain conditionalities must be put in place before the party and himself can reach a level of understanding, among them funding of the campaign.

Dr Bloomfield was found dead at his Passley Gardens home on the morning of Saturday, February 2, but police have still not given the motive, nor have they revealed the cause of death based upon the autopsy, at a scene where the body had several stab wounds, including one directly through the heart.

Dr Rhodd, like Dr Bloomfield, studied in Cuba and is a highly respected opthalmologist with a private practice in the Corporate Area. He graduated from the Institute of Medical Sciences in Santiago de Cuba in 1985 after obtaining a scholarship in 1978. Like Dr Bloomfield, who attended the University of Havana and graduated in 1986, Dr Rhodd also did track and field athletics for the institute.

Dr Rhodd’s father, Keith, also represented the PNP as MP in the Portland Eastern seat for one term, beating former director of tourism, Rhodes Scholar and talk show host, Anthony Abrahams in the 1976 General Election, polling 9,292 votes to Abrahams’ 7,433. The senior Rhodd died in the United States in December 2013.

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Party sources also told the Sunday Observer that university lecturer and businessman Damion Crawford had also been approached by the party, as some believe that his national profile could tip the scale in favour of the Opposition, were he to run. Initial reports are that he has declined, but it’s not a done deal.

Crawford has been associated with virtually every seat that has become available by way of by-elections, and others for which there are no clear representatives.

The move to project Dr Rhodd, or even Crawford would mean another snub for attorney-at-law Andrea Moore, a popular PNP figure in the constituency who defeated Dr Bloomfield in a delegates vote during the lead-up to the 2016 General Election.

But although Moore was favoured by a majority of the delegates, some members of the party’s hierarchy with whom Dr Bloomfield had close association, opted for the medical practitioner, who went on to defeat the Jamaica Labour Party’s Deron Wood in the election.

The PNP has said that it will not publicly discuss plans for Dr Bloomfield’s successor and preparations for the by-election until after the late doctor’s funeral service, which has not been disclosed.

The JLP has said that Annmarie Vaz will be its candidate in the by-election.

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