A service provider in the Tourism industry, Randal Robinson has been selected by the Constituency Branch of St. George’s South East to be the Caretaker Candidate for the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in the next General Elections that are constitutionally due next year.
Robinson got the nod during elections held Monday night by NDC members at the Marian Multi-Purpose Centre that was presided over by the party’s Treasurer, Bernard Isaac.
He received 93 votes as opposed to 31 by Elliot Bishop, the former President of the Commercial & Industrial Workers Union (CIWU) and current Public Relations Officer of the NDC branch in the constituency.
There was one spoiled voted, and two persons abstained.
Robinson’s elevation comes less than one week before Congress holds its annual convention in which Prime Minister Tillman Thomas is seeking to regain control of the party following a bitter fight for control with a faction led by his General Secretary, Peter David, a former Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation.
The crucial party meeting has been shifted from River Sallee in St. Patrick’s to the St. Andrew’s Anglican Secondary School (SAASS) in Telescope, St. Andrew’s.
Although being appreciative to the people who supported him, Robison recognised that the journey ahead would be a tough one to win the seat and to allow it to remain in the hands of Congress.
In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY Newspaper, the new NDC Caretaker Candidate admitted that it would take hard work and “a leap of faith” in pulling through when the elections are called.
The seat was won in the 1999 and 2003 general elections by former Deputy Prime Minister, Gregory Bowen of the New National Party (NNP). Congress won the constituency in the July 2008 poll when former Foreign Affairs Minister, Karl Hood defeated Bowen.
Robinson spoke of having “a good team of people” with him to assist in the campaign and that while he is not gloating over the victory against Bishop, it feels good to being able to go forward.
He said that the defeated Bishop must also be recognised as being part of the process in going forward.
According to Robinson, both he and Bishop have made a commitment to continue working together in the interest of the constituency and the party.
The NDC Caretaker Candidate noted that he was urged to come forward to serve the country by a former Choir Mistress, Pat Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago.
He said Bishop told him last year that he can become a good advocate for the people of Grenada, and that he should consider it.
Robinson pointed out that the urge to get involved became more forceful to him when members of the constituency started the search for a replacement for Hood.
He stressed that before making the decision to go forth in frontline politics, he had to seek the advice and blessings of his family who are not engaged in political matters but they were very supportive.
Robinson said as soon as he declared himself interested in accepting the challenge to be the NDC Caretaker Candidate for the constituency, he received mixed reactions from members in the area.
He stated that while some people lauded it as a brilliant move, there were others who expressed severe reservations and indicated to him that politics can become nasty business.
“I think the Lord is ahead of me, and I am behind so the way is being made clear,” he said.
Robinson sounded optimistic when he said that some people whom he met in the constituency who were previously disillusioned have now become energized.
The newly installed NDC Caretaker joins a number of new faces on the NDC Team for the upcoming general elections such as Senators Denneth Modeste and Dr. George Vincent in St. Mark’s and St. John’s respectively, and Terry Hillaire in St. Andrew’s North East.
The NDC is also expected to install new candidates in St. Patrick West, The Town of St. George, St. George North-west, South St. George, and St. David’s.
Speculation is rife that a well-known businesswoman is tipped to replace former Tourism Minister, Glynis Roberts in South St. George while a prominent calypsonian is considered as the front-runner for the St. David’s seat as the incumbent, Michael Denis Lett will not be seeking re-election for a third consecutive term in Parliament.
Prime Minister Thomas is said to be concentrating on ensuring that the party is purged of the pro-David elements and to get Congress ready for a major battle against NNP in the upcoming national poll.