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Ches Crosbie wins N.L. byelection

Progressive Conservative candidate Ches Crosbie signals victory to his supporters in the Windsor Lake byelection Thursday night at his campaign headquarters in St. John’s.
Progressive Conservative candidate Ches Crosbie signals victory to his supporters in the Windsor Lake byelection Thursday night at his campaign headquarters in St. John’s. - Keith Gosse

Progressive Conservative Leader takes Windsor Lake, gains seat in House of Assembly

When Ches Crosbie first told his parents, John and Jane Crosbie, he was thinking about entering politics, they were shocked.

“We didn’t want him getting into it. We didn’t know he was thinking so seriously of it,” Jane said Thursday night after her son won the Windsor Lake byelection and a seat in the House of Assembly.

“We said what are you doing that for?”

Ches didn’t listen to his mother’s advice.

“I’m sure she had my best interest at heart,” said Ches.

“I wasn’t really thinking of myself when I did this. I was thinking of what the province needed. I’ll continue to think of that.”

John, 87, came with Jane about an hour before Ches made it to his election headquarters, taking his walker front and centre to watch the results come in.

“I’m glad it’s turned out as it has,” said John.

Ches Crosbie, 65, will now sit in the House of Assembly as the member for Windsor Lake and Leader of the Opposition.

Crosbie won a tight contest.

The unofficial results showed 2,034 votes for Crosbie, 1,816 votes for Liberal candidate Paul Antle and 914 votes for NDP candidate Kerri Claire Neil — a 218-vote margin of victory. 

Premier Dwight Ball (left) and defeated Liberal candidate Paul Antle Thursday night.
Premier Dwight Ball (left) and defeated Liberal candidate Paul Antle Thursday night.

Elections Newfoundland and Labrador says voter turnout was 52.6 per cent. 

Antle and Premier Dwight Ball arrived at Crosbie headquarters at 9:30 p.m. to congratulate Crosbie on his victory — though Crosbie hadn’t arrived just yet.

“We ran an honourable campaign, a respectful campaign. I’m very proud of my people and what we did as a party, as a team. I’m very happy,” said Antle.

Antle didn’t say for sure whether his name will appear on the ballot again, having suffered his fourth electoral defeat.

“I recollect that on three occasions now, I’ve run against three leaders,” said Antle.

“Maybe if I run again, I won’t do it against a leader.”

NDP candidate Kerri Claire Neil speaks to reporters Thursday night at her campaign headquarters. Neil came in third in the Windsor Lake byelection.
NDP candidate Kerri Claire Neil speaks to reporters Thursday night at her campaign headquarters. Neil came in third in the Windsor Lake byelection.

Kerri Neil took some time to gather her composure, and enjoy warm hugs from supporters before speaking with reporters after the results were announced.

Throughout the evening, members of both competing parties commented on Neil’s strong showing. A first-time candidate who stepped into the race after her opponents, Neil won 19 per cent of the vote.

She hopes her run can inspire others.

“I met a lot of people at the door who said, ‘Wow, you were so impressive at the debate, but maybe when you’re a bit older,’ and it was frustrating because I knew I was putting forward good ideas and that I have the background to really push through, but I think people wanted someone with a bit more experience,” she said.

“I hope my run shows people that we can put a voice at the table and we should run, and it’s important to put our ideas out there.”

Neil says she’ll be on the ballot again in 2019.

Crosbie now gets to take his campaign messaging into the House of Assembly, where he’ll get to address Ball face-to-face in November.

“I can tell you, I am looking forward to facing off with Ches Crosbie,” said Ball, with a pointed finger and a pointed tone.

“It was his party that nearly bankrupted this province and he is bankrupt of ideas — at least, I have not seen any yet.”

Crosbie is ready, too.

“The message is: dissatisfaction with the last three years,” he said.

“I will hold the Ball Liberal government accountable in the House as the champion of the people, with lower taxes, affordable electricity and honest government.”

Crosbie says his victory could snuff out any rumours of a snap election called in the spring.

“We have the momentum. He’s not going to do that,” said Crosbie.

The province now turns from Windsor Lake to the 2019 general election. With all three leaders of political parties having seats in the House of Assembly, the question of who will lead the province after 2019 becomes one the province can wonder aloud.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

Juanita.mercer@thetelegram.com

Twitter: juanitamercer_

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