The opposition Cayman Islands Democratic Party will field at least 10 party candidates, in addition to supporting some independents for the upcoming election.
One of those CDP candidates is Denniston Tibbetts, the older brother of Progressives party founder and former leader, Kurt Tibbetts, CDP officials confirmed over the weekend.
Denniston Tibbetts is expected to contest the election in the eastern George Town constituency of Red Bay.
Asked in February why he would consider standing against his brother’s party alongside its longtime opponent, West Bay MLA McKeeva Bush, Mr. Tibbetts replied, “I love my brother, we grew up together. But the [Progressives] never did anything for me.” [*]
Denniston Tibbetts may not face off directly against his brother in George Town, however, because Kurt Tibbetts’s candidacy in the 2017 elections is in doubt. A number of political hopefuls have speculated in the past few months that the younger Mr. Tibbetts intends to call it quits after this term. It is anticipated that Kurt Tibbetts will make an announcement this week regarding his future with the party, possibly at the end of the current Legislative Assembly meeting.
When asked about his political future recently, Kurt Tibbetts told the Cayman Compass that it would have to wait until nomination day – Wednesday – to learn the answer.
An internal CDP conference held Saturday afternoon in George Town confirmed the 10 candidates the group, formerly known as the United Democratic Party, will nominate on Wednesday. A total of 19 Legislative Assembly seats are available in the May 24 general election.
Party leader Mr. Bush said four candidates would run under the CDP banner in George Town, including former minister Mike Adam in George Town South, party chairwoman Tessa Bodden in George Town North, businessman Jonathan Piercy in George Town West and Denniston Tibbetts in Red Bay.
Mr. Bush has previously said the CDP would support some George Town independents, including Kenneth Bryan in George Town Central. However, when asked about it over the weekend, he said only that the party would support “three independent candidates” in various Grand Cayman districts and await the outcome of the election in other areas.
In West Bay, the party’s candidate slate is generally known, with Mr. Bush contesting in West Bay West, and incumbent MLAs Bernie Bush and Capt. Eugene Ebanks running in West Bay North and West Bay Central, respectively. Former MLA John Jefferson Jr. will take on Education Minister Tara Rivers in West Bay South.
In Bodden Town, the CDP agreed to field two candidates: businessman Robert Bodden in Bodden Town East and Stafford Berry in Bodden Town West. Mr. Bush has said the CDP would support incumbent MLA Alva Suckoo in Newlands and veteran incumbent Anthony Eden in Savannah, if he should seek re-election.
The CDP is not fielding any party candidates in the districts of East End, North Side and Cayman Brac West and East. For those districts, Mr. Bush said, “We’ll look at who is elected and support who we can, as best we can.”
The ruling Progressives party’s conference is scheduled for April 8, after nomination day, when its candidates will have to be confirmed. It is expected that incumbents Premier Alden McLaughlin, Minister Marco Archer and MLAs Joey Hew and Roy McTaggart will seek re-election in the George Town district. In addition, the Progressives are expected to run long-time party backers David Wight and Barbara Conolly.
In Bodden Town, Progressives Ministers Wayne Panton and Osbourne Bodden are expected to seek re-election. Other potential candidates for the party in that district include former MLA Heather Bodden and attorney Maxine Bodden.
In North Side, the Progressives are backing Edward Chisholm, the son of former House Speaker Edna Moyle. They will also back Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell in Cayman Brac West and current House Speaker Juliana O’Connor-Connolly in Cayman Brac East, if she seeks re-election.
[*] Editor’s note: Denniston Tibbetts later clarified his comment was intended to infer that the Progressives hadn’t done anything for him as a Caymanian and that the party hadn’t done anything in general for Caymanians.