By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
THE FNM’s reported struggle to raise funds for its upcoming national convention could foreshadow trouble ahead for the party’s general election campaign, according to Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner, who placed responsibility for the matter squarely at the feet of leader Dr Hubert Minnis.
Mrs Butler-Turner noted that she wasn’t a part of the convention process, as she remained tight-lipped over her own leadership bid.
“I haven’t been invited to be a part of that (convention planning),” she said. “My take on convention is simple, it is the responsibility of leadership to lead their party in all ways. As far as I’m concerned, whether the convention is in November or any other month, the leader has responsibility to lead and to rally his troops, and be able to get the necessary collateral to meet obligations.
“It’s clear to me if we have a convention on the horizon, and if the leader isn’t able to raise the funds, we have a much bigger problem. That problem is we have a general election coming up, where is the funding going to come from for that?”
The FNM’s national convention is set for July 27-29, which was pushed up from its initial November date after a group of six parliamentarians threatened to remove Dr Minnis as Official Opposition leader if he did not accept an earlier date.
Mrs Butler-Turner was a part of the group, which also issued a scathing rebuke of Dr Minnis to the party’s Central Council in support of their call for an earlier convention.
On Monday, insiders told The Tribune that the party was struggling to find the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to host next month’s convention amid debate over who is responsible for finding the funds.
Sources told The Tribune that the FNM’s big financial backers have refrained from providing money because of discontent with Dr Minnis.
Some, like former FNM Cabinet minister Tennyson Wells, have argued that those who fought for an early convention should find the funds to host it.
While others, like former Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette, said that the responsibility lies with the party’s leader. A convention was estimated to cost around $300,000.
On June 19, FNM Senator Duane Sands confirmed his plans to run again for deputy leader on a ticket with Mrs Butler-Turner vying for leader. At the time, Mrs Butler-Turner told The Tribune she endorsed all Dr Sands had to say about the matter.
However, the Long Island MP has since declined further comment and held off from making a formal announcement. Her silence has fuelled rumours that she will withdraw her bid in the event that former FNM Leader Hubert Ingraham enters the race.
Responding to speculation that she has backtracked from Dr Sands’ pronouncement, Mrs Butler Turner said: “There has not been any backtrack, I just haven’t made any announcement. I know this game of trying to find out and preempt me.
“I can only speak for Loretta Butler-Turner, I cannot speak for Mr Ingraham, Dr Minnis, or anyone except for myself and I have made it patently clear. I’m not speaking today; I will make my formal announcement.”
She added: “I have a plan and I’m sticking to the plan.”
In 2014, both Mrs Butler-Turner and Dr Sands lost their bids to become FNM leader and deputy leader respectively.