Veteran PLP MPs to face constituency challengers
A host of senior Progressive Labour Party MPs could be about to discover their political careers are near an end as a wave of new candidates look to oust them.
Former Premier Alex Scott yesterday confirmed he will stand down at the next general election, with numerous PLP sources saying former Education Minister Elvin James will do likewise.
And with all primaries across the Country expected to be completed in the next few weeks, any MP beaten by a newcomer faces sitting out the remainder of their term as a lame duck.
In some branches, four or five hopefuls are said to be competing to turf out long-serving MPs for the right to fly the PLP flag at the next general election.
National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief, Tourism Minister Patrice Minors, Estates Minister Neletha Butterfield and Speaker Stanley Lowe are said to be among those facing challenges.
It comes after the PLP changed its constitution to throw the door open to party members to challenge sitting MPs, with each candidate selected by a branch vote.
Mr Scott, an MP for 18 years and Premier 2003 to 2006, yesterday said he is stepping aside to give youth a chance; his son, 31-year-old Lawrence Scott, is keeping the family tradition alive by applying for candidacy himself.
Alex Scott told
The Royal Gazette: “At this stage of my involvement in the community, I think it’s time to allow younger folk to have an opportunity to make their way.
“The party is in good hands. I think these are crossroads for both Bermuda and politics in general. The PLP has become the political establishment.
“When I joined it was the Opposition with little hope of becoming the Government. Over the period I have been there the PLP became Government and it is now the senior party by 30 or 40 years.”
The Warwick South East MP has served as public relations consultant, party officer, Senator, MP, Minister and Premier since the 1970s.
“None of that was on the cards when I joined,” said Mr Scott, who thanked his constituents and the community for their consistent support and praised Premier Paula Cox for her integrity taking the PLP forward.
Lawrence Scott, a supervisor for JetBlue, pointed to a long family history including his great uncle Albert Jackson, the former Senate President.
“I feel as though it’s like a service to the Country; I just want to continue the family heritage,” he said.
Mr Scott Jr said he’s prepared to run anywhere the PLP sees fit.
On his imminent departure Mr James would only say: “I will wait until the party makes an official announcement. I think there’s a time and a place for everything. Whether I’ve put my name forward or not, it should come from the party.”
Many party members say Mr James has told them he doesn’t plan to fight another election. An MP from 1998 to 2003, he made a surprise return to politics shortly before the last election and was quickly promoted to Cabinet by then-Premier Ewart Brown.
However, he has reportedly been unhappy since being demoted to the backbench when Paula Cox succeeded Dr Brown last October and now appears certain to join Mr Scott and Sandys South Central veteran Walter Lister in retiring at the end of this term.
Before the constitutional changes it was highly unusual for sitting MPs to be challenged at primaries.
However, Mr Lowe has seen his Southampton East seat openly targeted by former Senator David Burch, with some saying Health Minister Zane DeSilva could also switch to that constituency after boundary changes tipped his Southampton East Central seat toward the One Bermuda Alliance.
Mr Perinchief’s Pembroke Central seat is being targeted by former Senator Walton Brown, while several members are said to have put themselves forward for Ms Butterfield’s Pembroke West Central seat.
However, Mr Perinchief’s high profile as a leading Minister is said to hold him in good stead, while Ms Butterfield is said to be popular in her constituency.
Mrs Minors, a close ally of the Premier and a key part of her Cabinet, is considered likely for a move to St George’s to protect her from the challenge of Senator Michael Dunkley of the OBA.
However confusion hangs over which St George’s seats are available for the Tourism Minister,
John Gibbons and Leroy Bean have previously been rolled out as candidates for St George’s West and St George’s South respectively, with Dame Jennifer Smith long-standing in St George’s North.
But it’s understood another primary will take place in St George’s West, meaning Mr Gibbons will have to fight off challengers for a second time; some say Mr Bean could face the same situation.
St George’s West’s attractiveness to PLP candidates has been increased by United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan’s decision to run there, likely taking votes away from the OBA candidate.
Pembroke South East MP Ashfield DeVent’s seat is being targeted by consultant Rolfe Commissiong among others, with Hamilton West MP Wayne Furbert expected to comfortably see off competition from Senator LaVerne Furbert and Charles Clarke due to his strong local support.
Other probable contenders include Economy Minister Kim Wilson and young party organiser Makai Dickerson to replace Mr Lister.
Junior Finance Minister David Burt is expected to push for a seat in a central constituency, and Junior National Security Minister Jonathan Smith is a contender for the Smith’s area.
Former UBP Minister Maxwell Burgess is thought likely for the Hamilton Parish area, where another former UBP MP, Darius Tucker, is said to have a fight on his hands from the likes of lawyer Charles Richardson.
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