Progressive Conservative candidate Sandy Collins won a provincial byelection Thursday in the northeast Newfoundland district of Terra Nova by a strong majority.
Collins received 2,398 votes. Liberal candidate John Baird, an economic development consultant, came second with 1,663 votes. New Democratic Party candidate Robin Brentnall, a retired Canadian Forces member, came third with 297.
The newly elected Collins, who, at 31, becomes the youngest member of the legislature, was the executive assistant to Conservative Paul Oram. He held the seat until early October, when he resigned from politics.
Collins said his experience working for Oram will help with the transition to public life.
"Over the last five years, of course, I've been the former MHA's shadow pretty much, so I know what's involved," Collins told CBC News. "Obviously the inner workings of caucus I'm not familiar with, but I'm a pretty smart guy. I'll catch on pretty quick."
Baird said he believes he lost because the campaign wasn't a level playing field.
"I don't think I was fighting against Sandy Collins in this election. It was Danny Williams and Danny Williams's cabinet ministers who were out here in force during this whole election."
Williams, coming off a byelection loss to the Liberals last month on the province's Northern Peninsula, said the win erases the disappointment of that defeat.
"The people of Terra Nova have just restored my confidence in the electorate. I mean, we've done a lot of things for rural Newfoundland and Labrador, despite the things that the oppositon has been saying, … and the people know we have."
Collins and Liberal Marshall Dean, who won October's byelection in The Straits-White Bay North, will take seats in the legislature when the house of assembly opens Monday.
The byelection results still see the Tories hold 43 of the 48 seats in the legislature. The Liberals occupy four seats and the NDP, one.