Tue | Nov 24, 2020

HANNA REBEL - St Ann SE councillor backs Golding in PNP presidential race

Published:Saturday | October 3, 2020 | 12:11 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Lydia Richards, councillor for the Bensonton Division in St Ann South Eastern, is backing Mark Golding for the PNP presidency.
Lydia Richards, councillor for the Bensonton Division in St Ann South Eastern, is backing Mark Golding for the PNP presidency.
Lisa Hanna.
Lisa Hanna.
Mark Golding.
Mark Golding.

The bitter relationship between People’s National Party (PNP) presidential aspirant Lisa Hanna and one councillor in the St Ann South Eastern constituency, Lydia Richards, has entered a new chapter with the latter throwing her support behind Mark Golding for the party’s top job.

In presidential elections, local councillor endorsements are considered critical in the showing of base strength in the party.

The situation could make matters worse for Hanna, who struggled in the September 3 general election to hold on to her St Ann South Eastern seat, which was largely considered for decades as one of the safest rural seats for the PNP.

After a judicial recount, Hanna brought home the seat by 31 votes, polling 5,150 votes to defeat the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Delroy Granston, who got 5,119.

After the party’s crushing 49-14 seat defeat to the JLP in the election, sitting PNP President Dr Peter Phillips indicated that he would be stepping down from the post and urged the party to start the process of finding a new leader.

Only Hanna and Golding have so far publicly declared their intention to vie for the post, with Comrades set to elect a new president on November 7.

The emerging situation in St Ann South Eastern could raise questions as to whether Hanna enjoys base support from the delegates, especially since she lost a vice-presidential bid in 2016 when she campaigned for renewal in the party.

In a voice note to Comrades, Richards, who The Gleaner understands will not be seeking re-election for the Bensonton division in the upcoming local government elections, said she believed that Golding would unify the 82-year-old party if he were to become its sixth president.

“I am supporting Mark because of the young people. I got a call from a former student of mine, who expressed the love and respect he has for Mark and I agree with those principles,” Richards said.

“I am supporting Mark because of the way he organises and supports Comrades throughout the party … ,” she added, declaring her backing for Golding, who, according to a leaked internal party poll, trails Hanna in support.

Hanna and Richards have been at odds for nearly five years.

In 2015, Richards fought to oust Hanna from St Ann South Eastern.

“We are going to fight to the end,” Richards had told The Gleaner then.

She said that the PNP had made “a mistake” in choosing Hanna at its standard-bearer in the constituency “and we are correcting it”.

Richards pulled out of the constituency poll at the last minute, citing concerns with the delegates’ list. Hanna went on to secure victory with 484 votes to Richards’ 10, albeit she had pulled out. Less than half of the 1,056 delegates participated in the exercise.

Meanwhile, Golding, the MP for St Andrew Southern, has made it clear that he is not running a Rise United 2.0 campaign, referring to the failed campaign by Peter Bunting which he supported to oust Phillips last year.

Political watchers await what role, if any, Bunting will play in Golding’s campaign.

Gleaner sources close to the Golding camp said that a campaign launch is being planned, and although an exact date has not been yet, Comrades would not have to wait too long to hear Golding outline his plans for the party.

Eyes are also focused on PNP Vice Presidents Damion Crawford and Phillip Paulwell, who are said to be considering whether they should throw their hats into the ring.