JLP switches one Simpson for another to face Lisa

JLP switches one Simpson for another to face Lisa

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

Friday, August 14, 2020

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THE Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has tapped Maxine Simpson, its councillor caretaker for the Bensonton Division in St Ann South Eastern, to be its standard-bearer in the constituency in the September 3 general election.

Simpson is known as a strong JLP organiser in the constituency, and was initially believed to be the one to get the party’s nod after Ivan Anderson walked away following his loss, by 3,265 votes, to the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Lisa Hanna in the 2016 General Election.

But the JLP later selected Dr Ryan Simpson as the man to be given the job to try to topple Hanna, who has held the traditional PNP constituency since 2007.

Dr Simpson was very visible in the constituency up to recently, and was on the ground with a message of “Vision, Hope, Change”.

However, in a surprising development on Wednesday, the JLP officially kicked off its campaign to retain power with the publication of 62 of its 63 candidates — with the candidate for St Ann South Eastern missing.

While some JLP sources claimed that he was left off the list in error, the party’s General Secretary Dr Horace Chang hinted to the Jamaica Observer that all was not well with its selected candidate.

Chang did not provide details, but Observer sources say several issues had been raised about the suitability of Dr Simpson to represent the party. There have also been allegations that he could still be facing a COVID-19 quarantine on Nomination Day, August 18, having recently returned from overseas.

Yesterday, senior JLP sources confirmed that Dr Simpson had been replaced by his cousin Maxine.

“She is a strong organiser and has worked hard to build the party’s machinery in the constituency. She took on the strongest PNP division, Bensonton, in the last local government election and performed credibly, although she lost,” said a senior JLP official in the constituency.

“With the performance of the Government over the past four years, a lot of PNP supporters are switching to the JLP, and this is a seat which could be the biggest surprise when the votes are counted,” added the JLP supporter.

Hanna faced a revolt from some PNP supporters in the constituency in the lead-up to the last general election and still emerged with one of the largest margins of victory, leaving the party confident that this is one of its 29 seats it is sure to retain.

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