Crowded field for Kingston Central PNP contest

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

Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Five people have been declared to face the starter in the race to replace Ronald Thwaites as the People's National Party's (PNP's) standard bearer in Kingston Central, while a sixth aspirant has suffered an early disqualification because “he is not a member of the party”.

Former members of parliament Raymond Pryce (St Elizabeth North Eastern) and Paul Buchanan (St Andrew West Rural), head the list of people who indicated their interest in replacing Thwaites before the close of the nomination period at 3:00 pm last Friday.

They were joined by Imani Duncan-Price, who took a figurative bullet for the party when she accepted a last-minute request to contest the St Andrew East Rural constituency in the 2016 General Elections and lost to the Jamaica Labour Party's Juliet Holness.

Businessman Donald Jackson, as well as minister of religion and businesswoman Joan Porteous, who had indicated an interest in replacing former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in the St Andrew South Western constituency, complete the crowded field.

Another businessman, Patrick Sterling, who had claimed that he had been working for the PNP in Kingston Central for the past 17 years, was declared an early non-starter as he was not deemed to be a member of the party.

Yesterday Sterling told the Jamaica Observer that he was in New York securing items for residents of the constituency who had lost their possessions in a recent fire but would return to the island this week to clarify the matter.

“They just don't want me to run,” Sterling quipped before promising to have a full discussion with the Observer when he returns home.

The aspirants are expected to be presented with a draft voters' list tomorrow and will face the PNP's Integrity Commission in the coming days.

Each aspirant will have to be cleared by the Integrity Commission before they will be officially recognised by the party as candidates for the selection conference scheduled for June 22.

The person who emerges with the most votes will be named caretaker/candidate for the constituency and will be expected to shadow Thwaites, who will remain the MP until the next election.

Kingston Central is one of the seats that the PNP cannot afford to lose if it is to win the next general election.

Considered one of the safe PNP seats, Kingston Central was first won by Thwaites in 1997.

The attorney-at-law, talk show host, and Roman Catholic deacon took a sabbatical from representational politics after he was linked to a controversial deal and did not contest the 2002 general elections, but the PNP still retained the seat with Victor Cummings.

In 2007 Thwaites returned to represent the PNP in the constituency and retained it with a 15 per cent victory margin. This increased to 21 per cent in his 2011 victory but declined to 13 per cent in the last general election.


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