Craig Cannonier, left, will lead the OBA into the next general election. Bob Richards, right, lost by just 14 votes. *File photos
Craig Cannonier, left, will lead the OBA into the next general election. Bob Richards, right, lost by just 14 votes. *File photos

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10: OBA Senator Craig Cannonier tonight became leader of the party - beating MP Bob Richards by a whisker.

Sen. Cannonier notched up 344 votes – just 14 more than Mr Richards.

Senator Michael Dunkley was elected deputy leader, beating veteran MP Trevor Moniz by 506 votes to 163.

A delighted Sen. Cannonier said after the vote was announced around 12:30am: “I’m glad that the vote went the way it did.

“It shows we’re united and very serious about moving forward to win the next election. That close race means we are engaged and truly about the people of Bermuda and moving forward.”

A disappointed Mr Richards said: “I’m what they call a political bridesmaid. I’ve nothing much else to say. But I’m still a team member.”

The pair faced off in a contest between heavyweight former UBP Senator and MP Mr Richards, the shadow Minister of Finance, and Sen. Cannonier, former leader of the BDA, OBA shadow Economy, Trade and Industry Minister and a Senator for just a few months.

After the result was announced, Mr Cannonier praised his opponent and Mr Dunkley and said: “We would not be who we are without gentlemen like this.

“Now we get to work, now we stand unified because with us unified, nothing can stop us.”

He said of Mr Richards: “This man is a great man right here and I look forward to working with him.”

Around 1,000 people attended the marathon meeting at the Fairmont Southhampton hotel last night to vote for the figures who will take the new OBA into its first General Election.

Former BDA member Michael Branco, an IT expert, took the deputy party chairman post, winning 516 votes to 505 for UBP veteran Jeanne Atherden and 258 for gym owner Karen Magnum.