Revisiting N.B.'s 2006 election landslides
Last Updated: Thursday, August 26, 2010 | 7:34 AM ET
Electoral landslides are an inevitable part of every campaign as huge numbers of voters line up behind one candidate, whether because of a strong local personality or a historic allegiance to a party.
The 2006 election was the second straight campaign where the top two parties were separated by a slim margin of votes provincewide. But in a handful of ridings, the winning candidates won by such a wide margin they were able to launch into their victory speeches moments after the ballots began being counted.
The three Edmundston-area ridings proved again to be an electoral fortress for the Progressive Conservatives in 2003. But no riding in New Brunswick turned out to be safer than Edmundston-Saint-Basile.
PC candidate Madeleine Dubé won by the largest vote spread in the 2006 election, earning 5,631 votes, which was 3,629 votes ahead of her nearest competitor, Liberal Jean Louis Johnson.
Dubé entered the race as a two-term incumbent and had spent the previous mandate serving in then-premier Bernard Lord's cabinet, holding the education portfolio and then the family and community services portfolio.
The riding that Dubé represents has been a rock-solid Tory seat for several decades, notwithstanding the 1987 and 1991 elections.
Dubé took the riding over from former PC leader Bernard Valcourt, who won the seat in 1995.
Jean-Maurice Simard, who was a powerful minister in Richard Hatfield's Tory government, was first elected in the riding in 1970 and held the seat until he decided not to run in 1987.
Both of New Brunswick's traditional parties have a handful of seats that in most elections should tilt their way on voting day. Dalhousie-Restigouche East is one seat the Liberals should be able to count on in most elections.
Donald Arseneault won the second highest plurality in the 2006 election, finishing 3,427 votes ahead of Tory Ronald Barriault.
Arseneault, who was first elected in 2003, has been a rising star within the Liberal ranks. He held the natural resources portfolio at the start of Premier Shawn Graham's mandate and now serves as the minister of post-secondary education, training and labour. More importantly, Graham tapped Arseneault to be his deputy premier earlier in 2010.
However, Arseneault will go into the 2010 election having to explain several high-profile closures in his riding. The northern community has been told NB Power intends to close the local power plant and that adds to the earlier closures of two chemical plants and the Abitibi-Bowater mill.
Caraquet is a northeastern riding that in most election cycles ends up in the Liberal column. And when the ballots were counted in 2006, Liberal Hédard Albert emerged with the third largest vote spread in the province, defeating his Tory rival PC Claude L'Espérance by 2,903 votes.
Albert capitalized on the anger aimed at the Tories over their decision to close the town's hospital and turn it into a health centre.
The Tories last held the riding after a 2001 byelection, but Albert took the riding back in 2003.
The NDP placed a solid third in 2006. And the party is hoping its leader, Roger Duguay, will be able to attract more voters in northeastern ridings considering he's running in Tracadie-Sheila.
Liberal Larry Kennedy held onto his Victoria-Tobique riding in 2006 by winning the largest margin of victory in his 19 years in provincial politics.
Kennedy cruised to a 2,589-vote win over PC candidate Chris McLaughlin.
Although Kennedy's longevity inside the legislature ranks as the longest among sitting MLAs, that hasn't always translated into easy election nights.
Kennedy had a comfortable win in 2003 after a relatively nervous 359-vote win in 1999. But that pales in comparison to the seven votes in 1995, which launched a judicial review. A 1997 byelection, saw Kennedy elected by 449 votes.
Kennedy won in the 1987 election, making him the first Liberal to hold the seat since the 1950s.
Albert is the Progressive Conservative equivalent to some of the northern ridings for the Liberals.
Albert turned away from the Tories in the 1987 McKenna sweep, the 1991 electoral insurgence by the Confederation of Regions and one more stint with the Liberals in 1995.
Before that 12-year hiatus from the Tories, the PCs had held the seat from 1952 to 1987 and then-Tory Wayne Steeves has controlled the riding since 1999.
Steeves saw his vote total drop in 2006 from 2003. But his 2,533-vote win over Liberal Clark Butland still ranked him with the fifth highest margin of victory in 2006.