The names are in! The Progressive Liberal Party has chosen Kingsley Smith to be its candidate; the Free National Movement says Bishop Ricardo Grant is its man and Lincoln Bain will represent the Coalition Of Independents in the upcoming bye-election.

Those are all party men, but there are also two independent candidates thus far, advocate for women and children, Terneille Burrows and Daquan Swain.

The quiet death of Hon. Obadiah Wilchcombe, Minister of Social Services  has catapulted into a slight roar coming from his party over who was to be named the candidate. Well all of that was temporarily silenced on Friday night when the party’s National General Council decided that Chief Passport Officer, Kingsley Smith, would be the choice.  

Now Smith is expected to give up his post as Chief Passport Officer as he cannot legally accept a nomination and continue on as a public servant.

Former PLP Cabinet Minister, Shane Gibson, also vying for that PLP nomination, walked away from the PLP headquarters offering no comment on his defeat, however, interestingly enough a supporter in his posse shouted, “We ga run independent!” That comment caught my attention as Shane Gibson is not known to walk away from a fight.

He was not ratified. Now what? If that supporter convinces Shane Gibson to run as an independent, will that rip apart the PLP vote? That remains to be seen. The main row seemed to be between Gibson and party Chairman, Fred Mitchell. On Friday morning Mitchell sent out his usual voice note with an odd conclusion, “principle should win over money and the future should always win over the past.” 

Nevertheless, we watch and see what Mr. Gibson will do now that the party has given the nomination to someone else – a person who supported the opposition, FNM, in 2021. If Gibson decides to run as an Independent those votes will be shared by himself, Grant, Burrows, Swain, Bain – five ways. 

Let us not forget that Gibson is not a stranger to politics and some would argue that he is a mastermind at it to boot.

Now the critics have highlighted the fact that there are pictures out there with Smith donned in full FNM attire. It is a fact that Smith walked the path of the torch at some point in his life, but his roots are said to be in the PLP.

A valid source informed that Smith left the PLP because a relative decided to run on the FNM’s ticket under the leadership of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. 

The said source also informed me that Smith grew up politically in the PLP’s youth arm – Progressive Young Liberals – and his father was a Stalwart Councilor.

Under the invitation of Prime Minister Davis, who was Opposition Leader at the time, Smith returned to his home in the PLP.

Another source refuted the story of Mr. Smith’s political journey, saying he and his family actually joined the FNM when former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham was fired by the Pindling Administration.

Whatever his political journey, Smith is now the PLP candidate for West Grand Bahama and Bimini.

In other matters, the Free National Movement quietly announced its candidate without much ado or argument on Thursday night. Nothing to see here! Keep it moving! The party seemed to have chosen Grant as its candidate without any push back from its Council. Grant is well known in his community and his party says he is a solid contender.

Bahamians wait with much a baited breath for the government to announce the date of the upcoming bye-election for the seat of West Grand Bahama & Bimini.

Article 67 of our constitution mandates that whenever any person vacates his seat as a member of the House of Assembly for any reason other than a dissolution of Parliament, the Governor General shall issue a writ for the election of a member to fill the vacancy and such election shall be held within 60 days after the occurrence of the vacancy.

We wait.

Just after the PLP candidate was ratified, Hon. Philip “Brave” Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas and leader of the PLP exited Gambier House and was met by the press.

Asked about his party’s spirited ratification process, he said, “We are a democratic party. We encourage lively debates. We don’t encourage a ‘yes, yes’ party and we have persons who express their views. I am satisfied with him (Kingsley Smith). He has been chosen and we are happy with him. He will win!”

Hon. Fred Mitchell, Chairman, PLP, issued a statement saying the PLP candidate has pledged to continue the work of Obie Wilchcombe.

“Tonight the PLP through  its Leader Philip Davis  offered the party’s  nomination in the bye election to fill the vacancy left by the untimely death of the Hon Obie Wilchcombe to Kingsley Smith 50 years old and an Attorney from West Grand Bahama,” Mitchell said.

“Mr. Smith pledged  to continue the work of Mr Wilchcombe of one love. All the candidates  from the Constituency  who did not get the nomination have pledged their support in the campaign. I welcome Mr Smith to our ranks and pledge the party’s full support.”

Dr. Duane Sands, National Chairman, FNM, said his party’s candidate brings integrity to the table and has an incredible commitment to the community of West Grand Bahama and Bimini.

“This is somebody who not only works in West Grand Bahama, but has lived in West Grand Bahama,” Dr. Sands said. “He knows the people. He knows the communities and has dedicated his life as a police officer and a pastor. We find him to have an incredible commitment to the community.

“He has been working the community for over 18 months. We look forward to the next representative for West Grand Bahama and Bimini being one Ricardo Grant. We are pleased that he is our Standard Bearer, as we feel he brings a level of integrity to the table and we look forward to greater things to come.”

The hierarchy of the major political groupings are backing their candidates and saying they are the best choice for West Grand Bahama and Bimini. It’s now time to select the best man, or woman for the job.

The residents now have to study the attributes of these candidates; suss out the pros from the cons and put their ‘X’ to the strongest name that is sure to get results for them in Parliament and elsewhere. Well that’s how I see it, anyway.

“AS I SEE IT” DISCLAIMER The views and opinions represented in this column, “As I See It” belong to the columnist and do not necessarily represent those of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas. The views and opinions expressed in the column are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual. This column is for informational purposes only.