THE PATH TO 32: Predicting Clarendon North Central
Saturday, August 29, 2020
THE EDITOR: Thirty-two seats is the minimum either of the two major political parties will need to win on September 3 to get a mandate to form the next Government. With both parties having a bunch of seats that they are almost certain to win, the push will be for a handful of marginal ones to determine the winner of the race to 32.
Two analysts, with ties to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP), will be looking at these key seats in the lead up to September 3.
This time it is Clarendon North Central where the JLP's Robert Nesta Morgan will try to hang on to a seat which his party has held since 2002 through Pearnel Charles Sr. After an unsuccessful attempt in 2016, the PNP's Dr Desmond Brennan will look to take the seat, which his party last won in 1997.
THE COMRADE: Voters in Clarendon North Central say it seems Dr Desmond Brennan has been their Member of Parliament (MP) since 2016 even though he lost by 536 votes to Pearnel Charles Sr.
“He is everywhere, you see him a lot more than we see Charles,” one resident of the constituency declared recently.
'Dr Des', a born and bred Clarendonian who lives in the constituency, feels very strongly about its “absentee” MPs.
“When the other man is driving out of north central to go home, I am driving into the constituency to my home,” he said.
Brennan lost the constituency by a mere 536 votes in 2016, cutting the victory margin Charles Sr enjoyed in the 2011 general election – 1,836 votes – by more than two thirds.
Dr Des was educated at Edwin Allen High School and Clarendon College. He then studied the Russian language at Ukraine State University before studying medicine at Ukraine State Medical University Faculty of Medicine, and The University of the West Indies (Mona).
Back home he served for several years as Clarendon North Central constituency chairman for the PNP.
On the civic side, he is chairman of the boards of Edwin Allen High and Crooked River All-Age schools.
Professionally he has worked at the Mandeville Regional Hospital, the May Pen Health Centre, Chapelton Community Hospital and is currently serving at the Lionel Town Hospital. He owns and manages Brendoc Medical Complex located on Main Street, Summerfield in Clarendon
“My commitment to Clarendon North Central is a water revolution. I want drinking water piped into every home in the constituency. The days of pan on head, or on a donkey, must be gone. Running through the constituency we have the Rio Minho, the Thomas River… the Oaks River and numerous springs. All of these can easily be tapped with wells and made to produce good drinking water,” argues Brennan.
He will seriously focus on the youth, not just “hand out farm work cards” so they can leave.
Dr Des is keen to see export industries built around the super sweet Millie Mango and the gungo peas that “practically grow wild” in the constituency.
“We have had no housing solutions in three generations in north central. The last one was Sangster Heights that was built so many years ago that people have forgotten,” declared Dr Des who is poised to put this constituency in the winning column for the PNP when the votes are counted on September 3.
THE LABOURITE: Created in 1967, Clarendon North Central gave us Donald Sangster who was its first Member of Parliament and its only parliamentarian to become Prime Minister of Jamaica.
This seat is classified as a JLP fortress because of its nine victories in general elections compared to two for the PNP.
Dr Desmond Brennan is the strongest PNP standard bearer since this seat was created and in 2016 he captured the eight largest number of votes by a PNP candidate.
Even though he is a strong candidate he is expected to lose votes due to the weakness of his party president and an expected big swing against the PNP.
But Robert Nesta Morgan cannot take Brennan for granted because the swing was against the PNP in 2016 and he still managed to increase his party's numbers by 869 votes.
Morgan clearly has the advantage because I don't see Brennan winning either Mocho or Rock River. While Brennan could take Chapelton, he will not win that division by a large margin while Morgan is expected to win big in the other two divisions.
Charles Sr won by only 536 votes and some Labourities blame him for letting the seat become a vulnerable one but it is clear they don't understand the numbers.
Charles Sr received 6,230 votes in 2016, which was number five of the list of most votes polled by a candidate in the constituency.
Nesta Morgan should get just over 7,000 votes while Brennan's numbers are expected to fall back under 5,000 as the better candidate prevails.
The only way Morgan can lose is if some Labourities who backed Charles do not come out to vote, but even then I expect them to support their party even if they do not know, or love, its new standard bearer.
Drop a line below to tell us who you think will take the seat.