Keod Smith has pulled out of the race to get the PLP nomination for South Andros. It was quite an extraordinary thing for him to do when you really really think about it. At a press conference on Thursday June 23rd with Perry Christie on his side, Smith told assembled reporters that while he had a strong desire to serve and the view that he was doing well in that race, he pulled out at the specific request of his leader, Perry Christie.
Now if you know Mr. Keod Smith, you know two things. He is no shrinking violet and will always voice his opinion, even if its not popular with an audience. The other thing is, well, we all know this one. The guy is a fighter and this may very well have a lot to do with the first thing mentioned earlier. So for Keod to pull out of a fight that arguably, he had the ability and the resources to win at the request of Perry Christie is rather extraordinary. Not only on Keod’s part but also on the part of Christie, who the armchair pundits were pointing to to sort out what they saw as a building crisis in South Andros with a sitting MP having to compete openly with others for his party’s nomination. Me personally, I have other opinions on that but thats for later in this piece.
Perry Christie may quite well have silenced the noise in the market about South Andros for the time being. He may have also given the Bahamian people a glimpse of the quiet but deadly effective way he moves behind the scenes in the PLP. Unfortunately for our people, we have confused power and control of political parties with Ingraham’s brute force approach to the FNM. The PLP is fundamentally different from the FNM in how it is run and as such, requires a much more considerate set of political tinkering to control. Christie masters that and the public rarely gets to see this so they buy into this “weak leader” propaganda.
A weak leader could not have gotten Keod Smith to pull out of a race that could have been won by him. A weak leader could not have done that AND keep Keod Smith from going the way of too many pig headed young political wannabes who think they invented Bahamian politics and say he’s running “independent.” No. Christie managed to do three things skillfully at once with this announcement. He got Keod to leave the fight. He got Keod to stay with the party and he also managed to give Keod some plum responsibilities in the upcoming election without upsetting the apple cart.
Imagine Ingraham in that position. Surely, there would have been a humiliated contender sitting next to his leader for the time being, reading a statement he did not write and probably had not read before being told to present it. There would have been bone deep hard feelings and the contender would have had to deal with Hubert’s “like it or lump it” approach and banished for good measure. What Perry pulled off is both an example of smooth diplomacy and deft leadership. Ingraham wants to talk about leadership, then maybe he can start there and tell the people why it is the FNM has yet to name its candidates. Hint hint, he has his own two man, one seat drama to deal with.
To his credit, Keod Smith deserves a heck of a lot of respect for how he managed things. Having put his own money into a number of projects in Andros in hopes of securing the nod, Keod could have gotten upset and declared he’s in it to win it. He fixed a bridge and sponsored the regatta for goodness sakes. Thats an investment in a nomination that most people would find difficult to walk away from. He did and he did so without having his arm twisted or holding a grudge. That, in my opinion, elevates Keod in the eyes of political observers and even some skeptics who have already begun asking what was he promised. Well, he said what he was promised. More work, just elsewhere in the campaign.
The other contender in the race, Sharmaine Farrington Austin has not officially pulled out of the race but it seems likely she will consider it strongly and follow suit while serving in the campaign in another capacity. Again, a strong leader creates the desire for people to serve. Perry has done that, no question about it. Now the only challenge that remains for him in South Andros is to get his current MP to understand that this was not a false alarm but an indication to him that you cannot take anything for granted and nothing is a foregone conclusion. Picewell has to work on a lot of things, not the least of which, is the perception that he spends more time talking to the leader of the FNM than his own leader. We know better but it doesn’t help his cause when he says to the Tribune that he “gave up two lucrative offers from Ingraham for what? This shit?” That was a stupid thing for him to say in the press but we all say stupid things in the heat of the moment. Now he has to work hard. Harder than he worked to become the MP in the first place and he must remember that his leader is the one who pulled Keod Smith out of South Andros and may very well cause Sharmie to ease off too. His leader is Perry Christie, not the other guy.