PC Glen Savoie wins Saint John East byelection
Liberals won the Saint John East riding on Sept. 22, but Gary Keating quit 22 days later
Progressive Conservative Glen Savoie has won the Saint John East byelection, easily beating the Liberals and the NDP.
Savoie lost by nine votes in September's general election, but on Monday night he won handily.
Savoie earned 2,225 votes compared to 1,398 for Liberal Shelley Rinehart.
NDP Leader Dominic Cardy is in third spot with 1,099 votes.
Green candidate Sharon Murphy had 262 votes and People's Alliance candidate Arthur Watson had 38 votes.
The results mean there will be 26 Liberals, 22 Progressive Conservatives and a single Green MLA in the legislature.
When Savoie arrived in his campaign headquarters on Monday night, his supporters erupted into cheers of, "Glen, Glen, Glen."
Savoie was emotional when he addressed the crowd, which included former premier David Alward.
Premier Brian Gallant said he accepted the byelection results and thanked voters and his candidate.
“I’m proud of the campaign put on by Shelley Rinehart and continue to be impressed with her commitment to the people of Saint John and New Brunswick,” he wrote in a news release.
The byelection was prompted when Liberal Gary Keating, who won the Sept. 22 election by nine votes, suddenly resigned citing the negative impact it would have on his family and health.
While it was definitely a bad night for the Liberal Party, Brian Gallant will still wake up tomorrow morning as the premier of a majority government.- J.P. Lewis, political scientist
The Liberals recruited Rinehart, the deputy mayor of Saint John, to replace Keating.
Cardy decided to run in the byelection after being pressured by some high-profile members of his party. He had announced on Sept. 22 that he would resign after failing to win his seat in Fredericton West-Hanwell.
J.P. Lewis, a political scientist at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, said the frustration over Keating’s resignation must have turned the riding to the Tories.
“Voters had such a small amount of information to evaluate the Liberal government on that the Keating resignation must have had a negative effect on the Liberal vote, which was down almost 1,000 votes,” Lewis said.
“In fact, the Tory and NDP vote totals were very similar to the results in the general election, suggesting that it must have been difficult to motivate the soft Liberal supporters.”
Lewis said it’s too early to tell whether Monday’s byelection will be a harbinger for Gallant’s new Liberal government.
“I don't think we should overreact or try to read too much into this result. Byelections are strange political beasts and need to be understood as part of a greater trend rather than one riding's vote,” he said.
“While it was definitely a bad night for the Liberal Party, Brian Gallant will still wake up tomorrow morning as the premier of a majority government.”