REAL NEWS: As the United Progressive Party predicted on By-Election Day in St. Mary’s South, its candidate, Kelvin “Shugy” Simon, was re-elected to the House of Representatives before midnight on Tuesday, October 24.
Formal confirmation came in a declaration from the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission on Tuesday night; but hundreds of residents had already converged on the counting house –the Urlings Primary School – and witnessed history in the making:
This by-election win – his second in one year – puts Simon in the history books as the first-ever political candidate to achieve this feat.
After a campaign that lasted almost the full 120 days allowed by the Constitution, Simon went into this contest confident that the voters who sent him to Parliament on January 28 would do it again.
When he emerged from Division A, Bolans – the Antigua Labour Party’s stronghold in St. Mary’s South – with a 38-vote lead, by- election watchers told REAL News they began to exhale.
Simon went on to capture the other two Divisions, significantly widening the gap between him and Labour Party candidate Dwayne
George, in Division C, Johnsons Point.
At the end of the night, the UPP standard-bearer had amassed 1,065 votes against his opponent’s 891.
However, both Simon and pundits had observed that the race had not been between Simon and George, but Simon and Prime Minister
Gaston Browne and his resources.
“For all the money that Labour Party spent on this campaign – including the inducements – they got a very small return on their Investments,” a woman quipped at the end of the count.
She was referring to the fact that the previous Labour Party MP and former candidate, Samantha Marshall, had captured 862 votes in the January 18 General Election, while George increased this share only
Meanwhile, Simon, in an interview after the count, said he felt “vindicated” by his election victory since Prime Minister Browne had called his first win a fluke.
The St. Mary’ South MP had resigned from the Lower House on June
7, triggering the by-election in his constituency.
After legal challenges about the legitimacy of his election – since he had not resigned his civil-service position before Nomination Day – Simon elected to resign and go back to the people for their decision at the polls.
He will be sworn in as the parliamentary representative for St. Mary’s South at the next sitting of Parliament.
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