Robert Le Hunte.

Final search.

The PNM’s La Brea unit is now searching for a third time for nominees and is likely to finally have a candidate by the end of this week.

And, after PNM’s leadership again addressed the executive last Saturday night, members of the executive are now satisfied the candidate won’t be former minister Robert Le Hunte. That included members who strongly supported Le Hunte last week.

La Brea’s executive was addressed by PNM’s leadership after the leadership and screening team interviewed 13 La Brea nominees on Saturday. But after almost five hours none were chosen

PNM executive chairman Wayne Wood said at the end of the exercise—around 10 pm—no one was chosen. The unit was advised to search again for nominees to present Thursday.

This is the third hunt. La Brea was asked to do so a couple weeks ago when former minister Le Hunte wasn’t accepted by the screening team. Though he’d resigned as minister, he was recommended by the executive which continued to support him even after four nominees were later found .

PNM’s leadership addressed the executive then and La Brea was mandated to search a second time. While the executive’s chairman followed the party’s mandate to search afresh, Le Hunte continued to have support from some executive members such as David Bigford and others at a vote taken last Wednesday. Those members clashed with the executive’s chairman.

When the executive attended last Saturday’s screening, some of those members—such Bigford—who supported Le Hunte, were absent.

After screening of the 13 nominees—including a former SWRHA head, two doctors and other professionals—it’s understood the leadership and executive each spoke frankly.Yesterday, executive member Gerald Debisette said the Prime Minister was very open with members and answered queries on why Le Hunte wasn’t accepted.

He said, “We in the executive are perfectly comfortable with it since we got the full explanation. Before, only about five members had an idea. So we’re comfortable going forward seeking other nominees,’’

Other members noted the PM said he’s just and fair, but acts after full consideration of all facts.

Debisette regretted that a few executive members were nott present at last Saturday’s meeting.

Bigford, who’s staunchly supported Le Hunte, confirmed he didn’t attend. He conceded, “While I’d have liked Robert to be the candidate, we’ll have to move on and look for a (new) candidate).”

Executive member Isacc Knutt added: “We’ll get a candidate next week. Right now the constituency’s is in a very good place, we’re seeing eye-to-eye— united.”

I’ll assist candidate

wherever I can— Le Hunte

Le Hunte had attended last Saturday’s screening exercise at PNM’s South office since he—as PNM vice chairman—was part of the screening team’s examination of nominees for Naparima and Mayaro. He recused himself for La Brea’s matter. He’d said he remained PNM vice chairman.

Yesterday, asked his view on last Saturday’s outcome, Le Hunte said, “Based on my experience with the PNM it’s not often you see a constituency, after three tries, continuing to give majority support to a candidate in spite of the person not being favoured by the leadership. I think the constituency’s now battle weary. But I commend them highly for their continued support.“

“I entered politics to serve, not hold office. I continue to be vice chairman and will execute that responsibility with the integrity and professional I hold and I continue to respect the sanctity of Cabinet,’’ he said.

Asked if he will support or assist the expected new candidate, Le Hunte added, “I’m still committed to the people of La Brea- wherever I can assist I’ll do whatever I can.“

La Brea sources said leading contenders for nomination included Dr Germaine Bovell-Pitt and former SWRHA head Keith McDonald who were among the last batch.