Call them the godfathers of Cayman Islands politics. McKeeva Bush, Alden McLaughlin, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Kurt Tibbetts have all served as leaders of the country – or in Mr. McLaughlin’s case, is presumed to soon become premier.
Unsurprisingly, all four were re-elected to the Legislative Assembly by fairly comfortable margins Wednesday, 22 May, representing three different parties in three districts.
Some years better than others
Election results from the past 25 years show how the candidates’ popularities have waxed and waned over time, as the number of voters and seats up for grabs have increased. In this most recent election, all four incumbents appeared on a lower percentage of ballots cast than they had in the past three elections, since 2000.
Though he was removed as premier in December and is dogged by 11 criminal charges related to government credit card expenditures, Mr. Bush still finished first in West Bay and his United Democratic Party took three of four seats in the district. However, this was the first time since at least 1988 that Mr. Bush failed to break the 50 per cent mark among West Bay voters.
Mr. Bush received support from 47 per cent of West Bayers in 2013. That’s down from 72 per cent in 2009. He received 63 per cent in 2005, 56 per cent in 2000, 78 per cent in 1996, 83 per cent in 1992 and 62 per cent in 1988.
People’s Progressive Movement leader Alden McLaughlin finished third in George Town, with the PPM taking four of six available seats in the district. Mr. McLaughlin received a vote from 37 per cent of George Towners in 2013. That’s less than the 47 per cent in received in 2009, the 64 per cent in 2005 and 61 per cent in 2000.
Party mate and former Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts finished first in George Town, appearing on 42 per cent of ballots. That’s down from 48 per cent in 2009, 69 per cent in 2005, 81 per cent in 2000 and 64 per cent in 1996. Mr. Tibbetts appeared on 43 per cent of ballots in 1992 and 1988.
In the Sister Islands, Ms O’Connor-Connolly appeared on 55 per cent of ballots, running as a People’s National Alliance candidate in 2013. She finished in second place to PPM candidate Moses Kirkconnell, whose popularity has skyrocketed from 50 per cent in 2005 to 75 per cent in 2013.
For the UDP in 2009, Ms O’Connor-Connolly appeared on 58 per cent of ballots. She appeared on 56 per cent in 2005 and 65 per cent in 2000. In 1996 and 1992, she received support from 49 per cent and 29 per cent of voters, respectively.
Bush vs. Tibbetts
As the original driving forces behind the UDP and PPM, Mr. Bush and Mr. Tibbetts’ political fortunes have largely determined (or at least tracked) the performances of their party members.
Mr. Bush’s popularity hit low points in 2000 and 2013, and peaked in 2009. A similar pattern can be seen in Capt. Eugene Ebanks shares of the vote. The performances of Rolston Anglin and Cline Glidden provide even more definite examples. Like Ms O’Connor-Connolly, Mr. Anglin and Mr. Glidden defected from the UDP to form the PNA, and accordingly could not depend on the political coattails of Mr. Bush in 2013. Unlike Ms O’Connor-Connolly, the two now found themselves running directly against Mr. Bush and their former party in its West Bay stronghold.
The consequences were precipitous drops in the popularity of Mr. Anglin and Mr. Glidden. After his popularity peaked in 2009 at 68 per cent, Mr. Anglin appeared on only 23 per cent of ballots in 2013. Likewise, Mr. Glidden’s popularity fell from 60 per cent in 2009 to 18 per cent in 2013.
Out in Bodden Town, PNA candidates Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour met a similar fate. Mr. Scotland’s vote share dropped from 52 per cent in 2009 to 24 per cent in 2013. Mr. Seymour’s vote share dropped from 37 per cent in 2009 to 20 per cent in 2013.
In George Town, Mr. Tibbetts’ popularity peaked in 2000 and has been declining since then. Party members Mr. McLaughlin and Lucille Seymour increased their popularity from their first runs for office in 2000 to 2005, but their vote shares have dropped since then.
In 2005, Ms Seymour appeared on 58 per cent of ballots. In 2009, she received support from 36 per cent of voters. In 2013, she received 30 per cent. However, with six seats in George Town in 2013 (instead of four seats in 2009), Ms Seymour finished in ninth, but only 3 percentage points behind first-time PPM candidate Joey Hew, who finished sixth.
Rookies a force
Many fresh-faced candidates performed admirably in the 2013 election, Mr. Hew being one of them. Also in George Town, Coalition for Cayman candidate Roy McTaggart finished in second, receiving 37 per cent of the vote. The PPM’s Marco Archer finished fourth with 35 per cent, and C4C’s Winston Connolly finished fifth with 35 per cent. Several other rookies finished within spitting distance of victory, including C4C’s Sharon Roulstone (31 per cent), PPM’s Kenneth Bryan (29 per cent) and C4C’s Jude Scott (29 per cent).
In West Bay, C4C’s Tara Rivers broke up the UDP’s stranglehold on the district, finishing in second with 44 per cent of the vote. (Ms Rivers ran in West Bay in 2000, receiving 26 per cent of the vote and finishing sixth). First-time candidates Velma Powery-Hewitt of the UDP and Mervin Smith of the C4C finished in fifth and sixth place, each with 32 per cent of the vote.
In Bodden Town, veterans Anthony Eden and Osbourne Bodden led the PPM sweep. Rookies Wayne Panton and Alva Suckoo finished in third and fourth, with 44 and 39 per cent of the vote. UDP first-timer Chris Saunders finished in seventh with 31 per cent.