Source: Jamaica Gleaner
Veteran politician and former Vice-President of the People’s National Party (PNP), Dr Karl Blythe, has said that despite the views being expressed by some pundits, he believes the party could increase its seat count from five to six in Region Six – Westmoreland, Hanover and St James.
“I can tell you without a doubt that Westmoreland will stand firm ... we will have all three seats. I can tell you that Western Hanover will also stand firm,” Blythe told The Gleaner, prior to Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ drive-through motorcade campaign tour of Westmoreland on Sunday.
The PNP’s Region Six consists of 10 parliamentary seats and of these 10, the party currently controls five – three in Westmoreland and one each in St James and Hanover.
The seats in the PNP’s control are Westmoreland Eastern, represented by Luther Buchanan; Westmoreland Western, held by Vice-President Dr Wykeham McNeill; Westmoreland Central, through Region Six Chairman Dwayne Vaz; Hanover Western, held by Ian Hayles; and St James Southern, through the retiring Derrick Kellier.
“In St James, we are under heavy manners. I can tell you that in Central St James, Andre Hylton has a very good chance of winning; I even think we are ahead right now,” said Blythe.
Hylton is seeking to wrest the St James Central seat from Heroy Clarke, the JLP’s incumbent. Should he win, he will become the second PNP candidate to win the seat, following in the footsteps of former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative Lloyd B. Smith, who became the constituency’s first member of parliament (MP) in the 2011 general election.
Blythe also said the St James West Central seat, which is currently occupied by the JLP’s incumbent, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, could fall into the hands of the PNP, who will be represented by Dr Andre Haughton. The seat is considered a marginal seat.
“Malahoo Forte is a toss-up,” said Blythe, who is seemingly less confident that the PNP’s newcomer in St James Southern, Dr Walton Small, will end the political aspiration of Montego Bay’s Mayor, Councillor Homer Davis, who is making his third attempt for the seat under the JLP’s banner.
“I am afraid that I do believe that in Southern St James, we are having a little problem there,” said Blythe. “Of course, we are not looking to win Dr Horace Chang seat in St James North West or that of Edmund Bartlett in St James East Central.”
Businessmen George Hamilton and attorney-at-law Michael Hemmings will be the PNP’s candidates going up against Chang and Bartlett, respectively.
In Hanover Eastern, Blythe who has served in the past as chairman of the PNP’s Region Six, is giving the PNP’s first-timer Wavell Hinds the nod over Dave Brown, the JLP’s incumbent MP.
“Even though it’s my family (Brown and Blythe are relatives) running for the Jamaica Labour Party in Eastern Hanover, I would not be surprised if Hinds bowls him, even though I think he (Hinds) needed more time,” noted Blythe.
“If I can pick up just one seat in this region (Region six) and hold on to what we have, if I can do that I am satisfied because, remember, we have 29 seats now. If we can hold those and this region can give them one more, that would be 30,” Blythe said. “It would be that all they have to get in the rest of the island are two more seats, and we would have the majority to former the next government.”
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