Goodbye, Sharon - Hay-Webster loses after switching political allegiance
Sharon Hay-Webster's decision to switch allegiance from the People's National Party (PNP) to the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) just under two months ago has proved to be political suicide.
Hay-Webster was roundly beaten by PNP candidate Denise Daley, who will be heading to Gordon House as the member of parliament (MP) for St Catherine Eastern - one of the new constituencies arising out of border reconfigurations by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ).
Back in the 2007 general election, Hay-Webster won the seat - which was then called St Catherine South Central - for the PNP by beating the JLP's Devon McDaniel by 1,017 votes.
Wooed by the JLP
Before crossing the floor, Hay-Webster, a third term MP, resigned as a member of the PNP in June and became an independent candidate. However, she was subsequently wooed from her small corner on the Opposition side in Gordon House by the JLP in November.
When the votes were tallied from the 110 boxes yesterday, Daley came out on top with 8,747 votes while 5,589 ballots were cast in favour of Hay-Webster's candidacy. The constituency has 27,698 qualified voters and 14,336 exercised their rights.
Daley's emphatic victory, by 3,158 votes, punctuated the political statement she made on nomination day with some 600 supporters, led by what appeared to be a marching band and dancing girls.
The orange tidal wave that hit Twickenham Park early on nomination day dwarfed Hay-Webster's approximately 200-strong throng of vuvuzela-blowing, bell-ringing supporters who accompanied her to complete her nomination process for the first time as a JLP candidate.
Daley's victory was in line with The Gleaner's political team's forecast, as she was listed among 20 PNP candidates who were expected to safely take a seat in the next Parliament.
This will be Daley's maiden voyage to Gordon House, but she is no stranger to representational politics as she was previously councillor for the Linstead division in that same parish for 25 years.
Before switching allegiance, Hay-Webster said she would not have sought re-election and had reportedly approached Daley about possibly replacing her as the PNP standard bearer for the constituency that has maintained most of the areas that traditionally vote for the PNP.