An opening in the Senate?

Nalton Brangman’s Resignation

I don’t think anyone should really be surprised at Mr Brangman’s resignation from the Senate – the only surprise really would be about the timing.

I’ve called for Mr Brangman to be replaced in the Senate a few times – I saw him as under-performing as a Minister and as a Senator in general, and his decision to take up a post with the Morgans Point development while initially refusing to resign as the Junior Minister for Tourism indicated poor judgement on his part.

I want to make clear here that I personally like Mr Brangman.  He’s friendly and I’ve enjoyed meeting him in passing or at the Senate. Senate

However, being a nice person isn’t enough to justify being a Senator, and I felt the OBA would be better off, in the long term, replacing him with another person who might bring more to the table.

And while the Senate should not strictly be seen as a sort of training ground for new talent, it does have that role also.  It does serve as a way to introduce and trial new talent and build up a candidate’s public image with a long-term objective of increasing their chances of being elected to the House of Assembly.

And so, as nice as Mr Brangman is/was, I think he was generally found wanting in the political competency required to justify staying on in the Senate. To me it was just a matter of time before he was replaced – and while he may indeed have resigned, question marks will hover around whether he jumped knowing he was about to be pushed or was encouraged to resign.

As it is, I wish him well in his new role.

As for the question of why now, well, I kind of feel that with the fall-out from Jet Gate resignations and the ascension of Mr Dunkley to the Premiership, the OBA would have been mindful of both the need for stability and the need to avoid looking like a full-on UBP restoration.  As such, I think the Premier was content to delay any major Senate or Cabinet changes until now.

Opportunity knocks?

With Mr Brangman’s resignation comes the inevitable question of who will replace him.

This is, of course, wholly the choice of the Premier (as regards a Government Senator).  However, I think one can make some educated guesses all the same.

I imagine there are two likely options for the Premier:

  1. He will appoint a Senator from amongst some of the failed 2012 OBA election candidates;
  2. He will appoint the candidate from the upcoming by-election in constituency 33 in the event of her losing.

Of the failed 2012 election candidates, I’d imagine Nick Kempe (constituency 18) or Andrew Simmons (constituency 17) are the most likely contenders, or someone from another constituency that the OBA intends to target for the next election.

If appointing the candidate from the upcoming by-election, Georgia Marshall, I think it would be unlikely to see her appointed until after the by-election itself (appointing her earlier would be an admission of hopelessness of winning the seat).  I’m not sure if there’s a statutory time period within which a vacant Senate seat needs to be filled however.

With the Throne Speech this Friday, and the first Senate sitting next Wednesday, I would imagine the Premier would like to fill the vacancy for Friday though, which makes me lean towards option one.

More opportunity?

While the resignation of Mr Brangman provides the opportunity to fill his now vacant seat with a new face, it also offers the opportunity for wider change too.

The Premier may chose to replace additional Senators, for example.  I think Senator Baron (the Premier’s Chief of Staff) is safe, as is Senator Fahy (holding several key ministerial positions that the Premier may not want to destablise).  I’m less sure about Senator Swan and Senator Woolridge…

In addition to replacing Mr Brangman, and potentially other Senators, this also gives the Premier an excuse for a wider shake-up in terms of a Cabinet shuffle.

In many ways the Premier inherited his cabinet from his predecessor, albeit with some minor changes.  The Premier may well decide that the time is right to put his own stamp on his Cabinet.

And then there’s a question of whether all this will affect the Opposition benches.

Mr Bean has retained the leadership of the Opposition, but may take this opportunity to also shake up his team, both in the Senate and the shadow cabinet.  Having said that, I think the Opposition has quite a solid Senate team and I would be surprised if there’s changes there – although the recent move by Kim Swan to the PLP may mean the PLP might consider shifting Senator Ming, which will have some interesting connotations.

A shadow cabinet shuffle would be more likely than a Senate shake-up I reckon; however I don’t think the Opposition, if they even make any changes at all, will feel the need for any radical changes at this moment in time.  Depending on the outcome of the upcoming by-election though, I can see the Opposition leader contemplating giving their candidate in #33 a shadow cabinet role.

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4 thoughts on “An opening in the Senate?

  1. I’ve been reliably informed that although the Senate meets briefly on Friday following the Throne Speech, they do not sit in a full sense until November 19th.

    As the by-election in #33 is held on November 18th, the possibility remains that the Premier may choose not to appoint a Senator until the 19th, allowing him to appoint Ms Marshall (the OBA candidate in the by-election) in the event of her losing, or appointing someone else in the event of her winning.

    Quite plausible that we won’t know who replaces Mr Brangman until November 19th at the earliest, no?

  2. I’d be very surprised if Georgia Marshall is appointed. Holding off until after the by-election would only fuel speculation that Michael Dunkley lacks confidence in the OBA’s ability to win the by-election. It would also look like a consolation prize for a defeated candidate.
    She cannot be appointed before the by-election, as a by-election candidate is ineligible for appointment to the Senate (and there’d be no sense in appointing her anyway).

    It is actually more likely that Jamahl Simmons would be appointed to the Senate than Georgia Marshall, albeit a remote chance….

    If I were the Premier, in an arch-machiavellian move, I would offer Jamahl Simmons the OBA’s senate position along with a juicy ministerial position in return for withdrawing his candidacy for the by-election. He has good pedigree for being able to switch parties without too much discomfort, and this would be an amazing temptation for him.

    As the nomination deadline has passed, Georgia Marshall would then become MP for Sandy’s South by default.

    The OBA would shore up their majority, and the PLP would be raving like a sack of mad badgers and have literally no idea which of their members are loyal and trustworthy. The Sherri Simmons show would be neutralised.

    I stress, it’s very very unlikely so as to be in the realm of political fiction, but more likely than Georgia Marshall being appointed as senator.

  3. Georgia Marshall won’t be appointed. Nominated election candidates are ineligible and I can’t see MD waiting until after the by election to appoint her. It would fuel speculation that he has no confidence in the OBA’s ability to win SS, and would be seen as a consolation prize.

    It’s actually more likely that he would appoint Jamahl Simmons, although this is straying into the realms of fantasy.

    But there is a case to be made. JS has proven repeatedly that he can switch parties without personal discomfort. He could be offered a juicy portfolio. This would result in him withdrawing from the by -election, meaning GM would win by default.
    It would shore up the house majority, plunge the PLP into a turmoil of distrust of its members and neutralize the Sherri Simmons show.

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