Pat tipped to replace Lisa

THERE are increasingly loud whispers in People’s National Party (PNP) circles that president of the party’s Women’s Movement, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, has emerged the favourite to replace Lisa Hanna in St Ann South Eastern.

PNP sources have told the Jamaica Observer that Duncan Sutherland, a twice-beaten candidate in Clarendon South Eastern, provides the high-profile candidate the party needs to ensure it holds on to one of its traditional seats that it is required to win if it is to have a chance at dethroning the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in the next general election constitutionally due in 2025.

Duncan Sutherland has so far declined to comment on the whispers.

“The party needs this seat and after the nail-biting win by Lisa in 2020 we have to put in place someone who will unite the Comrades in St Ann South East and get back the PNP votes which never came out because of the rift between Lisa and her councillors,” said one PNP source.

“Clarendon South East is a seat that Pat can win as [the JLP’s] Pearnel Charles Jr can be beaten, but it is better to get her in the St Ann South East and ensure that we hang on to that while taking back a number of PNP seats that the party lost in 2020,” added the source.

The PNP has never lost the St Ann South Eastern seat in a contested general election since it was created in 1959, and has enjoyed comfortable victories on every occasion except the last time around.

The seat was initially made safe by Dr Ivan Lloyd, who passed the baton to Seymour Mullings in 1969. Mullings won the 1972 and 1976 elections by more than 5,000 votes each time, and was one of only nine PNP candidates to taste victory during the party’s wipeout by the JLP in 1980.

After Mullings called time on his days in representational politics Aloun Assamba was made the PNP’s standard bearer in the constituency and maintained the stranglehold in 2002, winning by more than 3,00 votes.

Come 2007 it was time for Hanna, who was parachuted into the constituency by then PNP President Portia Simpson Miller and polled 7,158 votes to the JLP’s Peter Fakhourie with 4,461.

Hanna continued on her merry way in 2011, winning by 4,245 votes, and in 2016 when she polled 8,142 votes to win by 3,265 over the JLP’s Ivan Anderson.

But in 2020 Hanna managed only 5,150 to squeak home by 31 over JLP newcomer and late entrant into the race Delroy Grayson, as hundreds of Comrades stayed away from the polls in what was believed to be a protest against Hanna.

With no sign the rift was healing in the constituency, there was no surprise for seasoned political watchers when Hanna announced last month that after four terms she was calling time on her days in representational politics.

“I have always been a champion of change and having the courage to do what’s right, even when it’s not expedient or self-serving, as I believe courage has an obligation to pave new roads for the generation coming behind us. As such, I have recently decided to conclude my current journey in representational politics at the end of this term.

“Therefore, I will not be offering myself as the party’s candidate in the next general election when it is called, a decision I have communicated to my constituency executive. I trust this early notice will give constituency delegates adequate time to go through a selection process to select a candidate of their choice, which is their constitutional right,” said Hanna in her letter of resignation to the party’s President Mark Golding.

But with the selection of the older Duncan Sutherland the PNP seems set to ignore Hanna’s suggestion that she was paving “new roads for the generation coming behind us”.

Duncan Sutherland, the daughter of late PNP power broker DK Duncan, first entered representational politics in 2016 when she lost in a relatively close battle (958 votes) with JLP heavyweight Rudyard Spencer in Clarendon South Eastern.

She made a second attempt at the seat in 2020 but was defeated by the JLP’s Pearnel Charles Jr by 973 votes. Now if she gets the nod to represent the PNP in St Ann South Eastern she will be tasked with bringing the Comrades back together, rebuilding the party’s electoral machinery, and ensuring it returns to big victories in what is considered one of the party’s safest seats.

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