Crawford ‘hurt massively’ in defeat

Casting himself as the victim of character assassination, defeated People’s National Party (PNP) candidate for East Portland, Damion Crawford, was left devastated yesterday by a stinging 306-vote loss to Member of Parliament-elect Ann-Marie Vaz of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).

Vaz, 53, polled 9,917 votes to Crawford’s 9,611, the biggest aggregate turnout in the history of elections in the constituency.

In a terse tweet late last night, Crawford conceded defeat.

“Congratulations to MP Ann-Marie Vaz and her team ... . I wish you a successful tenure.”

Earlier, he praised his campaign team for their effort in a six-week campaign that left him too much ground to cover against a candidate who was on the hustings for more than a year.

“Thanks to supporters, colleagues, family, friends,” Crawford wrote. “Thank you for all your hard work and endless support today, and over the course of the campaign. The word is LOVE.

“Thanks to members of the PNP for the great effort and thanks to all that believed in my vision and had confidence in my abilities,” he added.

The former MP and ex-senator looked tired and thinner when The Gleaner caught up with him yesterday afternoon.

Midway before the polls closed, Crawford admitted that he feared being jolted by defeat.

“A loss will hurt massively. I am perceived nationally as a winner, and that is good for me politically. And that is not something I want to dissuade. But a loss will hurt massively. Because of my brazeness and my forthrightness, it will also determine how harsh the criticisms will be,” said Crawford.

“But it’s politics. Go hard or go home,” said Crawford.

He told The Gleaner that despite his national appeal, he was the underdog, and was hugely outspent by the JLP political juggernaut. He said the campaign has also caused him permanent damage.

“It had been an unfair competition. It has hurt me. The JLP decided to run two campaigns. One for my public image and one to hurt me personally. To say that I am sexist and a racist? That is something to hurt me personally. You go back years down the road and you see that written somewhere,” said Crawford.

“Some persons I thought were friends have sought to do permanent damage to me. So what this has taught me is who my friends are,” the 38-year-old said.

The former MP and ex-senator bemoaned that his campaign “did not have the money” to match the resources of Ann-Marie Vaz and her husband, Daryl. What I had was a team of motivated people. I had a united PNP behind me. It was a campaign of pure love, sacrifices. There were times when we ran out of shirts for our workers. But they were unfettered. They took the baton, and they went into the hills and valleys. And we mingled with the beautiful people of Portland,” Crawford told The Gleaner just after 1:30 pm.

“The PNP came behind me massively. I had the full backing of the party, because the people gave the party that motivation to come out and back me,” he asserted.

Among some of the party’s heavyweights behind him, and seen in the hinterlands of Moore Town, were members of parliament Denise Daley and Lisa Hanna, as well as former general secretary Colin Campbell.

“We all have to pitch in and finish this one once and for all today,” Daley said, as she marshalled proceedings on behalf of the party at Cornwall Barracks Basic School, which hosted polling divisions 98 and 101.

Miles deeper in the division was Hanna, in Simon’s Valley, at Lucille Williams Basic School, which held polling divisions 104A and 104B. The polling divisions both voted heavily in favour of the PNP in the 2016 general election.

“I have walked 20 polling divisions in the constituency for Damion. We have done well, being where we wanted to be and I expect it to get better. But so far so good, we are at our target,” she said.

Campbell was more upbeat in Bellevue, where he said he expected 207 votes, up from the 137-13 polled in favour of the late PNP MP, Dr Lynvale Bloomfield.

“We have received 77 votes in two hours today and are expecting more than 200,” he told The Gleaner.

Earlier, a PNP supporter proudly shouted, “Goat or no goat, we still a vote.”

Crawford was gratified.

“When you hear comments like that, I know that I have some soldiers with me. They have stood with us, they have worked us. And I think love might just defeat money this time around,” said Crawford.


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