Hanna braces for challenge - MP confident that she can stave off attempts to boot her
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Despite recent public spats with some of her councillors, and a declared plan to challenge her for the seat, Member of Parliament for St Ann South East, Lisa Hanna, is expressing confidence that she will be the party's standard-bearer in the constituency when the next general election is called.
According to Hanna, some of her supporters in the constituency have told her that there is a move afoot to destabilise the constituency as part of a plot to remove her as the representative of the People's National Party (PNP) in time for general election due 2016.
Already councillor for the Bensonton division in the constituency, Lydia Richards, has indicated an interest in representing the PNP in the seat that has never been won by the Jamaica Labour Party since it was first contested in 1959.
Political sources claim that the move to destabilise the constituency is reportedly being led by some senior PNP officials based in Kingston, with persons in the constituency being used to lead the fight.
But PNP General Secretary Paul Burke said while he is aware of some disquiet in the constituency, the leadership of party has not, and did not sanction any challenge in the constituency.
Burke noted that the party allows for sitting MPs to be challenged. "It has happened several times before in the PNP but it is not a common exercise. I have not received any such letter indicating the intention of anyone to challenge Lisa. But people have told me they have heard it on the air," said Burke.
"The delegates of the party, at a time designated by the party, will vote and select whoever their candidates are in each and every constituency, including South West St Andrew where the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller is the incumbent. She has to go through that very same process and anyone can offer themselves in South West St Andrew and it is not a challenge, it's their right," insisted Burke.
The right to challenge is also accepted by Hanna who indicated that she is confident that she is firm in the seat.
"One thing about the PNP is that it's a democratic party. Anyone can aspire for the highest office. So I am not averse to being challenged. I can defend my record in the constituency. It is one of the most organised constituencies of the party, and I am not under any pressure in the constituency," declared Hanna.
Now in her second term as member of parliament, Hanna received strong support last Wednesday night at an all groups meeting held in Richards' Bensonton division in the constituency.
According to Hanna, Richards did not receive any support from her division, and the vote of confidence was unanimous.