It has long been coming but it is now a reality – trade unionist/retired civil servant, sportsman and journalist Rae Roberts is now into frontline politics.
Roberts is “a good catch” for any political party in the country but more so the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which is on the rebuild following its humiliating 15-0 defeat in the 2013 polls.
It was several months ago that THE NEW TODAY carried a front-page story in which it identified the then Labour Senator along with attorney-at-law, Claudette Joseph as two high profile persons who will be on the Congress slate for the upcoming general election.
Joseph was endorsed just over a month ago for the Town of St. George seat to face another attorney, Peter David, the former NDC turncoat who is now a prominent member of the ruling New National Party (NNP).
This newspaper is certain that the NNP and its caretaker for South, Health Minister Nickolas Steele would take notice of Roberts’ entry into the political fray as he will be no push over in the upcoming national poll.
The Health Minister can expect a serious battle on his hand if he intends to remain as an elected member of the Lower House of Parliament.
Sen. Roberts is “a real south man” with respect throughout the constituency including the well-to-do Lance Aux Epines area which is a stronghold for NNP over the years.
He is not only coming with good credentials to tackle Health Minister Steele and the others but the new man on the Congress slate is well respected in the trade union movement, as well as someone considered as a committed member of the Catholic faith, and a long-serving civil servant with a good reputation and character.
The newest frontline man from NDC also comes from a large family with a strong labour background in the south of the island which was once dominated by late Prime Minister, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy.
And the upcoming election in Grenada will be vastly different from 2013 in terms of the issues at stake.
The NDC had self-destructed in government given the bitter infighting that took place in which a faction loyal to Peter David challenged the authority of then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas.
The likes of Steele, Alexandra Otway-Noel and Oliver Joseph were given easy passage into Parliament in a one-sided election won by NNP.
THE NEW TODAY believes that all 30 candidates put up by NNP and NDC will have to bring something of their own to the table and cannot rely solely on the might and weight of the party to carry them to victory.
Sen. Roberts will do very well on this scoresheet as he is very likeable and can hold his own in the constituency.
Today, the NNP is for the first time under Dr. Mitchell’s stewardship showing signs of having deep internal friction.
Former High Commissioner to London and party stalwart, Joslyn Whiteman is bent on running for the Constituency of St. David in opposition to the incumbent, Oliver Joseph.
The long-standing Public Relations Officer (PRO), Terry Forrester is at war with the party over the manner in which he was side-lined in favour of the handpicking of the Health Minister for the south seat.
Every vote picked up by Forrester will do harm to Steele and not Roberts.
In addition, Roberts has managed to get the support of two time NNP MP for the constituency, Mark Isaac to endorse him and to pledge to work with him to win the seat.
Isaac is no political fool and should not be under-estimated in terms of his knowledge of the politics on the ground.
There is also a crack in the town of St. George as controversial attorney-at-law, Venescia Francis-Banfield who is known to be associated with NNP is planning to run as an independent candidate.
Any vote picked up by the attorney will hurt Peter David and not Claudette Joseph.
In the past elections, the NNP was able to attract a lot of like-minded persons to come together under a powerful banner to beat all opponents.
Today, the situation might be a bit different for the ruling party due to its many “broken promises” to the electorate in 2013.
There is no “new economy” as promised, unemployment among the youth is around the 50% mark, the national debt is still high, and taxes have never been so high in the history of this country.
The NNP will be hard-pressed to take home all 15 seats again much less ensure all opponents lose their deposits this time around, according to Social Development Minister Delma Thomas of St. Andrew North-west.