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Comrade clash

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Comrade clash

Lisa, Mark wrestle for PNP’s top post

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

Saturday, November 07, 2020

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For the second time in just over a year People’s National Party (PNP) delegates are going to the polls for an internal contest with national implications.

Last year it was the clash of two Peters, from which Dr Peter Phillips emerged with a narrow 76-vote victory over Peter Bunting to retain the leadership of the party.

Phillips subsequently led the PNP to a crushing 14-49-seat defeat to the Jamaica Labour Party in the September 3 General Election and tendered his resignation to leave as the only president of the 82-year-old party not to lead a Government.

This time, just over 3,500 delegates will decide whether it should be Lisa Rene Hanna or Mark Jefferson Golding who should be the sixth president of the PNP and, in short order, the country’s next opposition leader.

The polls open at 10 this morning and close at 3:00 pm at 12 locations across the island, with the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), which has been contracted by the PNP to conduct the election, saying it should be done counting the votes in time for the winner to be announced by 5:00 pm.

After a short, and relatively clean campaign, both Golding and Hanna last Wednesday declared that they had done enough to convince the delegates and were confident of victory.

“I am as ready as I need to be for Saturday, and I am pleased with my campaign team. We have done the groundwork, and I am looking forward to Saturday,” declared Hanna, the Member of Parliament (MP) for St Ann South Eastern.

The 45-year-old Hanna is running under the theme ‘Bring back di Love’ and has spent much of the campaign beating back claims that she has been one of the divisive elements in the party.

“My record does not speak to that. If you look at my record as regional chairman, having been elected for eight years consecutively, what you would recognise is that I presided over a region where there was absolutely no fallout in other constituencies,” Hanna told the Jamaica Observer in the lead-up to today’s election.

She said that during her chairmanship of the party’s Region One, which comprises constituencies within St Ann and Trelawny, it had been smooth sailing.

“If you ask every constituency, all 63, if you ask the workers in those constituencies, if you ask the councillors I’ve walked with over the past decade about who I am, they will tell you that she’s a team player,” added Hanna, who is banking on her record as a four-term MP, former Cabinet minister, Opposition spokeswoman, and PNP treasurer to carry her through.

Golding, the 55-year-old attorney-at-law and corporate banker, in his first full term as the MP for St Andrew Southern, has pointed to his trackrecord as a Cabinet minister, party treasurer, and successful businessman as reasons he should be elected 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 while on the campaign trail.

According to Golding, who had never before indicated any interest in the leadership of the PNP, everything is in place for his victory today.

“I am very satisfied with the way the campaign has been going, the way the team has been performing, the response we have had on the ground and nationally as well. It is very positive and we are looking forward to Saturday,” Golding told journalists on Wednesday.

With one-third of the delegates eligible to vote being based in the party’s Region Three, which covers Kingston and St Andrew, both Golding and Hanna are targeting this block with big hitters from those parishes among their key backers.

Golding has the endorsement of Corporate Area heavyweights including Anthony Hylton and Angela Brown Burke, while Hanna has the former region chairman Phillip Paulwell and Imani Duncan-Price leading her charge.

The delegates-rich St Catherine with 454, Clarendon (267), St James (266), Manchester (253), and St Ann (221) will also have big impact on who emerges president.

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