By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
ACTING on his repeated pledges to support MP Loretta Butler-Turner as the candidate for the Long Island constituency in the 2017 general election, FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis and party executives are expected to endorse her next week during a town meeting on that island.
Dr Minnis and party officials are scheduled to visit the island next Monday for the event at the Salt Pond Regatta site.
However, there are those within the party who have serious concerns about this. It has been speculated that this town meeting will be used as an avenue to gauge the level of support for Mrs Butler-Turner as the party’s top pick to contest the seat.
It comes as the party prepares to ratify several new candidates today, which reportedly includes former Deputy Commissioner of Police Marvin Dames, among others.
One insider said: “We believe the expectation is just an attempt for Dr Minnis and his co-conspirators to try and cause trouble for Loretta and people believe that that is what that effort is about.
“There is no reason for him to have any damn meeting in Long Island. Just go and ratify her tomorrow (Thursday) along with everyone else.”
Another insider said: “He didn’t have any meeting to discuss anyone else he ratified. So why is it necessary for her, a sitting MP? Why is it necessary? Just ratify her and then go down and amplify her. That is backwards nonsense.”
The accusations were refuted by FNM Chairman Sidney Collie. He said he was not interested in any other meetings.
“I know we are having a community meeting on Monday when the leadership of the party are going down to endorse Loretta as our candidate,” Mr Collie said. “Any other meeting I am not aware of and frankly I am not interested in.”
Just last week, former Cabinet minister Tennyson Wells told The Tribune that he instructed a group of supporters in Long Island to draft a petition for Mrs Butler-Turner’s removal if they truly wanted another candidate.
Mr Wells said this group approached him for counsel during the most recent regatta on the island where he advised them that the most effective way to get the party’s attention was to gather as many signatures as possible to prove that she is no longer supported.
The petition, obtained by The Tribune, lambasted Mrs Butler-Turner for “humiliating” FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis and warned that should the FNM dismiss the demands for a new candidate, its supporters were fully prepared to nominate and elect a “worthy” independent.
At the time Mr Collie not only sought to distance the party from the matter, but said it would not support the petition in any way. He said that to date the party had not received any petition regarding the Long Island candidacy.
Despite challenging Dr Minnis twice for the leadership post of the party, the Killarney MP has repeatedly said the party supports the former deputy leader as their candidate for Long Island.
After emerging as party leader in July following a tumultuous three-day convention, Dr Minnis signalled that he would not purge the party of the high profile members who have publicly criticised his leadership and helped expose the party’s infighting.
At the time he said: “Tonight we offer the olive branch once again to our sister Loretta Butler-Turner, who I’m certain will be our candidate in Long Island with my full support.
“We have undergone a lot over the last few years. Our internal politics have been made bare for all the world to see and it’s not been pretty, but through it all we have maintained our integrity and focused on the points that unite us.”
Last week he again made the same pledge in The Nassau Guardian, this time adding that the claim that she had lost support of her base in Long Island was “utter rubbish”.