Newfoundland and Labrador's governing Tories were given a third consecutive majority on Tuesday night while the Liberals edged the upstart NDP to remain the Official Opposition.
Progressive Conservatives: 37
"It's a great night," Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale told CBC News as she entered a victory party in St. John's. Dunderdale's win extends a run that started with predecessor Danny Williams in 2003.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Dunderdale said during her victory speech. "I am humbled by your overwhelming support."
The Liberals, who struggled through the campaign with low funds and third-place results in opinion polls, retained Official Opposition status even though the NDP received more votes. While the PCs took 56.1 per cent of the popular vote, the New Democrats had 24.6 per cent and the Liberals had 19.1 per cent.
The Liberals gained two seats for a six-seat caucus, while the NDP won five seats, up considerably from the single seat that NDP Leader Lorraine Michael had held.
"This is very decent news," said Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward, who lost his own attempt to win election in St. George's-Stephenville East. "We picked up seats that weren't expected."
While the New Democrats narrowly lost the fight for Official Opposition status — the parties were tied at five seats apiece until the final poll was reported in the last remaining seat to be decided, Humber Valley — Federation of Labour president Lana Payne said the NDP can only celebrate its success.
"This is a huge victory for the NDP. A lot of history made tonight," Payne told CBC News.
Dunderdale, 59, becomes the first woman to lead a party to victory in a Newfoundland and Labrador election.
"It is pretty amazing," said Sarah Dunderdale, reacting to her mother's victory.
"It's kind of hard to take it all in, because to me she's Mom, but I'm extremely proud that she's our first female premier."
She said her mother, whose career started with school-board and municipal politics on the Burin Peninsula, is fulfilling her destiny.
"I could have envisioned this when I was 12 years old. I always thought that Mom could do something like this, and to me this is just a natural progression of her career," she said.
Two cabinet ministers fell challengers. Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner, who was responsible for key areas of the energy-focused Tory platform, lost to New Democrat Gerry Rogers in St. John's Centre. Aboriginal Affairs Minister Patty Pottle lost to Liberal Randy Edmunds in Torngat Mountains.
Dunderdale becomes only the second woman in Canadian history to win a provincial election, following the milestone set by P.E.I.'s Catherine Callbeck in 1993.
Although her platform mirrors many of the policies that Williams championed, Dunderdale has indicated she will pursue a new agenda with new priorities.
She ran on a platform that emphasized fiscal prudence and modest Red Tory increases on social spending. Dunderdale has both tipped her hat to Williams — praising him as the best premier in the province's history — while also making it clear she will set out on a new path.