Golding eyes gold

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Golding eyes gold

Mark's team plans route to victory as he heads to nomination centre today

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 23, 2020

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SUPPORTERS of People's National Party (PNP) presidential candidate Mark Golding have been given a fillip following the release of the preliminary list of delegates, which they say show him with very strong support.

Golding is slated to be nominated today to contest the November 7 election for the PNP's top job and will face off with Lisa Hanna, who was nominated on Wednesday — less than 48 hours after she told the Jamaica Observer that she enjoys the support of 10 of the party's sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) and 63 of its 97 councillors.

But Golding's Campaign Director Angela Brown Burke downplayed the significance of those numbers yesterday.

Brown Burke noted that when Portia Simpson Miller was elected PNP president in 2006, she was backed by about three of the sitting MPs at the time.

Highlighting the inclusive nature of the Golding campaign, Brown Burke said the support from the delegates on the ground has been very strong.

“It is looking very good and we have done our numbers, but it is never done until election day. We are checking the draft delegates' list and we know that there will be objections, corrections, and changes, but we are comfortable with what we have seen so far,” she said.

“In a campaign, all the way up to election day there will be supporters, there will be those in the middle, and there will be those undecided, so we are continuing our work on the ground,” added Brown Burke.

The PNP Secretariat released the draft delegates' list on Tuesday, with approximately 3,300 Comrades eligible to vote in the poll to elect the party's sixth president. The final list is scheduled to be released on October 30.

While it is expected that changes will be made to the list, Observer sources close to the Golding camp yesterday pointed to the delegate-rich support enjoyed by some key Golding backers, including Peter Bunting, Dayton Campbell, Lothan Cousins, and Brown Burke herself.

According to the sources, if these key backers can convince the majority of their delegates to line up behind them it should be a sure victory for Golding.

Among the Golding backers with strong delegate support are former MPs Bunting (100), Dayton Campbell (77), Fenton Ferguson (88), and Colin Fagan (82).

Sitting MPs who back Golding include Cousins, with 70 delegates, Brown Burke (117 delegates), and Anthony Hylton (36 delegates).

But, despite the number of delegates in the constituency represented by the Golding backers, Brown Burke said the campaign team is still working on the ground.

“In the PNP we have long recognised that our leaders are important, but we know that you can never take the delegates for granted,” she said.

Hanna has also argued that she will get support from delegates in some of the constituencies represented by Golding supporters, including in Brown Burke's St Andrew South Western constituency, where she has been endorsed by Councillor Audrey Smith-Facey.

Going into today's nomination, Golding has affirmed that the time has come for him to put himself forward to lead the PNP.

“I think that I bring to the table the range of skills and attributes and approach that the party needs at this time. So it is really out of a sense of duty to Jamaica, because I regard the PNP as a very important institution in Jamaica, and I have a sense of duty to my party that I am putting myself up,” Golding told Observer reporters and editors at this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, as he rejected claims that his candidacy was a continuation of the attempt by his close friend Bunting to lead the party.

Bunting, who had labelled his campaign “Rise”, lost his bid to unseat Dr Peter Phillips whose camp had adopted the name “One PNP”. The challenge reopened old wounds in the party and was fingered by some politicos and supporters as one of the reason's for the PNP's humiliating 14-49-seat loss to the Jamaica Labour Party in the September 3, 2020 General Election.

“The Rise Campaign is over. The One PNP Campaign is over. And, indeed, we have to put these things behind us on consignment to history, because the fact is that this challenge that we have is the lingering effect of many years of internal contests which have affected the cohesiveness of the party and the unity of the party,” Golding said on Monday.

“So I have really made a brave effort to indicate that I am doing this as Mark Golding, with a sense of duty and a sense of purposefulness and passion for the party that I believe in, and the Jamaica that I love — that is why I am doing this,” added Golding.

He charged that the factionalism and divisions in the PNP in the past must come to an end.

“We must move beyond that, and I am running a campaign of unity, of rebuilding, and of coming together under one big tent, as the PNP family,” said Golding.


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