BY INGRID BROWN Associate editor — special assignment email@example.com
AUDLEY Shaw says there has been a groundswell of delegate support for his decision to challenge Andrew Holness for the leadership of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in what, he is convinced, will be a very competitive race.
"It is going to be a highly competitive race and certainly, as a pretty good student of politics, I wouldn't have gone into a race if I didn't feel that I had more than an even chance to win," Shaw told reporters and editors at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's head office in Kingston.
A confident-sounding Shaw said he has been surprised at the level of support he has been receiving in places such as Portmore, where seven of the nine caretakers have declared their support for his candidacy.
He expressed similar confidence that he has been able to gain overwhelming support in areas such as East Hanover, where caretaker Paula Kerr-Jarrett and Donovan Hamilton have both publicly declared their support for him. A similar result, he noted, has been achieved in Westmoreland, where a number of councillors and caretakers also publicly declared their support on his campaign platform.
"Earlier in the game, when a few people jumped out and (asked) where are the people declaring for Shaw -- mine is slow but sure," Shaw said, adding that the race is not always for the swift.
Support, he said, is now also coming from delegates in some constituencies where the members of parliament have publicly declared support for Holness. One such parliamentarian is Shahine Robinson in St Ann.
"Support is coming from the caretakers at the constituency level and at the council level and former mayors like (Delroy) Giscombe, right there in Shahine's backyard and who is one of Shahine's councillors, is fully in my corner," Shaw said.
"The parish of St Ann is pretty much gone... even some of Shahine's delegates are coming with me, because they remembered when I camped out down there and became Shahine's campaign manager in 2001 and she won that by-election, and so it is payback time now," he said.
As for Clarendon, Shaw said support for him is very sure, despite North Central Clarendon Member of Parliament Pearnel Charles publicly opposing any challenge to the leadership of the party.
"Pearnel is making up a lot of noise, but he has delegates who are going to support me, believe it or not," Shaw said.
Shaw, who is the MP for Manchester North Eastern, said it is also a done deal that he has the support of the delegates throughout that parish.