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PLP still working to select candidates

Some members of the Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)are hoping the party’s candidates committee will come to a decision in the coming days on candidates for the South Beach, Kennedy and Pinewood constituencies before the last PLP National General Council(NGC)meeting of the year.

The PLP’s candidate selection process has stalled. The first four PLP candidates for seats not currently held by the party were selected in March.

Senators Jerome Fitzgerald(Marathon), Michael Halkitis(Golden Isles)and Hope Strachan(Sea Breeze), along with political newcomer Dr. Kendal Major(Garden Hills)will represent the party at the next general election.

The PLP named several other candidates since March, halting the process due to controversy in the South Beach, Kennedy and Pinewood constituencies.

In Kennedy, the race is between attorneys Derek Ryan, Craig Butler and Dion Smith. Ryan has secured the support of the PLP Kennedy branch. However, the party hierarchy reportedly is not in favor of Ryan, making it unlikely that he will be recommended to the NGC.

A party source said the PLP has concerns also about the two remaining candidates.

Butler, however, is making a strong push to secure the nomination. The brother of Cabinet minister Loretta Butler-Turner, and grandson of Sir Milo Butler, he apparently published a document on November 30 called’The Kennedy Review’.

“As your next representative Craig will be the voice of Kennedy, expressing the concerns and views of the constituents,”the document said about Butler.”He is fully committed to the people of Kennedy.”

Butler had sought the PLP nomination for Elizabeth in the run-up to the February by-election. He lost that nomination to current Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder.

In the publication, Butler listed pages of endorsements from Kennedy residents and highlighted his charitable efforts in the area.

Party insiders said Smith is popular in the party with younger voters, having turned out large crowds at party events.

In Pinewood, the race is between attorneys Chery Bazard and Damian Gomez.

Bazard is reportedly supported by members of the Mt. Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church establishment in Pinewood Gardens a strong lobby group in the PLP. However, the Gomez family is reportedly close to PLP Leader Perry Christie. It is unclear who Christie will side with in this race.

Bazard may have a better chance of securing the nomination, in part, because Gomez can be shifted to the South Eleuthera seat if current PLP MP for the area Oswald Ingraham retires from politics. Ingraham is 73 years old.

Though the PLP’s candidates committee is responsible for recommending candidates to be ratified by the NGC, it is understood that Christie’s blessing is what is needed in order to secure a nomination.

In South Beach, attorney Myles Laroda has won the support of the party’s branch. His competitor for the nomination is president of the Bahamas Nurses Union Cleola Hamilton.The Guardianunderstands that she is supported by high ranking supporters of Christie, some of whom are members of the candidates committee.

It is also unclear who Christie will support for this nomination. Laroda may have a slight edge over Hamilton, as going against the will of a branch, when there is no ethical strike against a candidate, can cause inter-party strife.

A party member, who did not wish to be named, said yesterday that the PLP needs to resolve the nomination issues in these constituencies, as”it is important to be ready for a strong FNM(Free National Movement)machine at the next general election.”

The NGC is scheduled to meet on December 16.

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