Seats to watch on election night
Political watchers say the colour of Bellevue on election night will be the barometer of Liberal fortunes.
The district has elected Percy Barrett four times, and by comfortable margins. But now the labour minister is in the fight of his political career against Tory Joan Cleary, a nurse and the mayor of Come by Chance. Cleary's campaign has momentum, giving her a chance at being the first PC ever elected in Bellevue.
Political watchers say that if Barrett goes down, the Liberals will be reduced to as few as five seats.
Ministers at risk
That could mean political defeats for Liberal cabinet ministers Kelvin Parsons, Gerald Smith, Tom Lush, Anna Thistle, Walter Noel, Joan Marie Aylward, Bob Mercer, Judy Foote, Ralph Wiseman and Jim Walsh.
It could also cost leader Roger Grimes his Exploits seat.
Polls before and during the campaign suggest the Tories are positioned well to form a majority government. But the war will be fought on the ground, and the Liberals have fighting chances in at least 14 districts.
Of those, five are considered to be in the Liberals' favour: Yvonne Jones (Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair), Wally Andersen (Torngat Mountains), Oliver Langdon (Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune), George Sweeney (Carbonear-Harbour Grace), and Roland Butler (Port de Grave).
The real battle is over rural Newfoundland and Labrador, where both Grimes and Conservative Leader Danny Williams have spent the majority of the campaign, but some St. John's area seats are being closely fought.
Longtime MHA and NDP Leader Jack Harris is fighting off a serious challenge from Conservative Karen Carroll. Harris has campaigned more heavily in districts outside his own in this election, which could cost him his seat. A loss here would return the NDP to a single seat in the House of Assembly. Liberal candidate Ray O'Neill is considered a distant third and not a factor.
Liberal cabinet minister Walter Noel is fighting hard, but this district is neck and neck and can only be called when the final votes are counted. Conservative Kathy Dunderdale, a former party president, is PC Leader Danny Williams' hand-picked candidate.
Conservative Shawn Skinner is trying to wrestle the seat from Finance Minister Joan Marie Aylward. The Liberals have held the seat since 1989, but before that it was a Tory bastion. Aylward is a senior cabinet minister, but the popularity of NDP candidate Carol Cantwell could split the vote, giving the district to the Tories.
Justice Minister Kelvin Parsons was only elected in 1999, but he's well-liked and respected. His challenger, Conservative Steve Mackenzie, is an ambulance operator and president of the private ambulance operators' association. The district is historically Liberal, but the popularity of the Tories in this election puts the outcome in doubt.
Lawyer Tom Marshall is campaigning to win back the seat held by Lynn Verge for 14 years. Liberal Bob Mercer won the seat in 1996. He was appointed to cabinet in February. Marshall, son of former MP and senator Jack Marshall, is riding high on the popularity of his party.
The seat is up for grabs with the decision of Liberal incumbent and cabinet minister Kevin Aylward to get out of politics. Aylward had held the seat since 1985. Ron Dawe wanted the Tory nomination, but Danny Williams blocked it. Dawe is now running for the Liberals against Conservative Joan Burke.
Health Minister Gerald Smith is up against Jim Hodder, who held the seat for two different parties for over 20 years. Hodder was elected as a Liberal in 1972, but he switched allegiances 10 years later to the Tories. Smith won the seat back for the Liberals in 1993, when Hodder decided not to run again. Smith has been a popular MHA, but he's in an uphill battle against the Tories this time.
Liberal Mary Hodder decided not to run again, leaving Sam Synard to try to retain the seat for the party. Synard is in a race with Conservative Clyde Jackman, but the NDP candidate is a wildcard here. Wayne Butler, a union representative at the Marystown shipyard, received 41 per cent of the popular vote in 1999, coming a close second to Hodder. The Tories were a distant third.
The number of candidates makes this seat unpredictable. Liberal cabinet minister Jim Walsh is fighting off four challengers. Tory candidate and Paradise mayor Dianne Whalen is considered his main opponent, but independent candidate Doug Cole did well as a Tory here in the 1996 and 1999 elections. Ken Kavanaugh is back for the NDP to siphon off that vote.
Roger Grimes has had to leave his district in the hands of his wife as he tries to retain rural Newfoundland for the Liberal party. The PC candidate here, Clayton Forsey, is a popular, well-organized candidate. It could be a tight race for Grimes.
The Liberals are trying to win back the district they lost in a 2002 byelection. Conservative Harry Harding cashed in on voter dissatisfaction with Beaton Tulk, who quit the district to run federally, lost and tried to come back. The Liberals hope their candidate, party president Churence Rogers, can return to the district to its traditional red. The district was once represented by Joey Smallwood.