BERMUDA-POLITICS-Former Premier fumes after being overlooked as election candidate

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HAMILTON, Bermuda, Jun 15, CMC – Former Premier Paula Cox has launched a broadside against opposition leader David Burt after being rejected as a Progressive Labour Party (PLP) candidate for the seat she lost in the last general election in December 2012 in a stunning upset.
Cox said party leaders, who announced Wayne Caines as their selection for Devonshire North West on Wednesday, had acted as if they had a “backroom agenda” to tarnish her reputation.
Cox, who remained as Finance Minister after she succeeded Dr Ewart Brown, who stepped down as Premier under the PLP in 2010, lost her House of Assembly seat to the One Bermuda Alliance’s (OBA) Glen Smith, the boss of a leading car dealership.
The OBA narrowly won the election, by 19 seats to 17, but subsequently lost two of its members of parliament who quit the party to sit in the House of Assembly as independents.
One of them, former Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell, 47, was found dead at his home at the weekend. The other independent, former Attorney-General Mark Pettingill, was Crockwell’s partner in a Hamilton law firm.
Premier Michael Dunkley has called a new election on July 18.
The Royal Gazette newspaper on Thursday reported that Cox sent a scathing e-mail to Burt over her rejection as a candidate for her lost Constituency 14 (C14) seat.
She said the branch executive was told at a meeting on Monday that she “could be a liability” to the PLP if she were to run. The PLP led the country for 14 years after ousting the now defunct United Bermuda Party (UBP) in 1998. The UBP had been in power for 30 years.
According to e-mails sent to the Gazette by Beresford Mack of the Atlanta-based press agency MC Media, the branch executive was dismayed that Caines, a former senator, had been chosen ahead of Cox.
The series of messages between Cox, Burt, party chairman Scott Simmons and branch secretary Nadine Henry also appeared to suggest that Cox could now run as an independent candidate to “let the voters of C14 decide the outcome”, the Gazette said.
Cox told the Gazette on Wednesday night: “The news as you would be aware is that the PLP party leadership has made their decision, which was announced via their press conference earlier today.
“I will continue to work in C14. The C14 voters have been very open about what they want and expect from their next representative and I plan to work to earn their trust and confidence.
“They want change from the OBA and they wish experience and commitment. I am determined to do what is required to earn their vote and their support.”
Asked about the e-mails, Burt said: “The PLP’s priority is bringing an end to the failed OBA government and giving the Bermudian people a voice again.
“Internal party discussions pertaining to the best path forward are common, but at the end of the day, the entire PLP is focused on victory in 34 days. That’s where my focus is and that’s where this party’s focus is.”
Cox wrote to Burt on Tuesday: “This is to follow-up in writing further to the meeting you had with the C14 executive yesterday evening at the Devonshire Recreation Club and our discussions.
“The branch executive used the occasion to reconfirm to you that they continue to stand resolutely behind me as their selected candidate.
“They stated unequivocally that the process outlined in the party’s constitution for the selection of candidates must be adhered to. You have acknowledged that based on the party’s national polling, it shows that I as the branch selected candidate was well positioned to win.”

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