Powell looking to bowl out Hutchinson ... Says it won't be an easy task
J.C. Hutchinson, the sitting member of parliament for North West St Elizabeth, has often said he will be hitting former West Indies fast bowler Daren Powell back over his head for six and causing a major dent in the youngster's political career.
Powell, now a councillor in the St Elizabeth Parish Council, is seeking to step up to being a legislator in the House of Representatives. But he is mindful about Hutchinson's ability to swing his political bat.
Since arriving in North West St Elizabeth in 1997 after a stint in neighbouring North East St Elizabeth, Hutchinson is yet to lose.
"The task at hand is very large," Powell, the People's National Party (PNP) standard-bearer told The Gleaner on Sunday while attending the 77th annual conference at the National Arena.
"It won't be an easy walk in the park," he said of the possibility of unseating the Jamaica Labour Party's deputy leader.
The closest the PNP has come to winning the seat in the past three decades was in 2002 when Hutchinson got home by 247 votes. Then, he polled 5,575 votes to the PNP's Stanley Redwood's 5,328.
Since then, the PNP has not crossed the 5,000-vote line, getting 4,813 in 2007 and 4,823 in 2011.
Conversely, Hutchinson has seen as many of 6,438 voting for him in 2007, but this subsequently slipped to 5,689 in 2011.
The PNP last won the seat in 1993 when Melford Brown was voted as MP. But since then, it has been the Hutchinson show.
Despite the odds, Powell feels there are tell-tale signs that he has been bowling a good length, and it is likely Hutchinson's stumps could be uprooted in dramatic fashion.
"I won't be amused about people and their disappointment in the member of parliament. It is just that so many elections have gone by when they have said that we can't win again and you have seen that he hasn't lost," Powell said.
He told The Gleaner that his focus has not been in the fact that Hutchinson has been carrying his bat for such a long time but rather, he is concentrating on bowling the right line and length.
"There is a great deal of work that needs to be done in that constituency, but for the most part, what I am doing is getting the people to believe in what I want for them and what I believe I can do to make a difference in the people's lives in that constituency," Powell said.
Failed the constituency
The PNP challenger said that his focus in North West St Elizabeth would be infrastructure, agriculture, education and sports. He argued that Hutchinson has failed the constituency, but acknowledged that the PNP needs to be able to mobilise if he is to stand a chance.
"There is some form of belief by the Comrades, but when you look at North West St Elizabeth, it is not only Comrades who vote in there. It is just that we need to get some new people to believe in the principles of the People's National Party, and more so, the ideas that I want to bring out and the fulfilment of what I campaigned about, for them to believe and understand that I am here to serve and to serve well," Powell said.
Powell, 37, has played 37 Test matches and 55 one-day internationals. He has claimed 85 Test wickets and 71 in the shorter version of the game. The now-retired fast bowler said that there are similarities between sports and politics.
"The beauty about sports is that it has a lot of demands. People always want you to perform and to do well. In politics, it is the same. The only difference I find is that there are more people, calling your phone (in politics). But if you are willing to serve the people and you love the people, then you don't make it a complaint. It is a call of duty," Powell said.
His challenge to Hutchinson comes even as the Supreme Court has ordered that his assets be frozen.
Justice Lloyd Hibbert made the order after Powell was sued for failing to make full payment after he purchased a supermarket in Malvern, St Elizabeth.
Documents show that the company, Quintex Limited, and its director, James Chin, have sued Powell for damages in excess of $35 million. The lawsuit was filed in April this year.