Nfld. & Labrador

'We pulled it off': Meet the candidates who took down the opposition leaders

John Hogan upset Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie to win the district of Windsor Lake by over 500 votes, while John Abbott defeated NDP Leader Alison Coffin to take St. John's East-Quidi Vidi by just 53 votes.

Both men ready to move into MHA spotlight

Both John Hogan, left, and John Abbott defeated opposition leaders to secure their seats in the Newfoundland and Labrador's House of Assembly. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's pandemic election could spell the end for the province's two opposition leaders, with Liberals now sitting in their seats, ready to represent their districts.

Both John Hogan and John Abbott secured victories in their first provincial election campaigns. Hogan upset Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie to win the district of Windsor Lake by more than 500 votes, while Abbott defeated NDP Leader Alison Coffin to take St. John's East-Quidi Vidi by just 53 votes.

 Both candidates say they believed they had a shot at victory since the beginning of their campaigns.

"When I decided to run, of course you want to win," Hogan told The St. John's Morning Show on Monday. "You go in with expectations as high as you can set them, but you want to be realistic. So from Day 1, we were committed to winning and getting every vote we could.

'We knew if we did our work, we'd be able to get the votes to win this seat. And we pulled it off."

Hogan has held several positions within the provincial Liberal Party in the past, including treasurer and chief financial officer. Also a practising lawyer, he said he hasn't spoken to Premier Andrew Furey as to whether a cabinet position, like justice minister, could be in his future.

Furey had pushed for Hogan's election at points throughout the campaign, including endorsing the Windsor Lake candidate on his Twitter page on the day of advance poll voting.

Abbott has spent years as a bureaucrat and senior civil servant within the province's Health Department. He was one of two candidates to put his name forward for the Liberal leadership in 2020 after former premier Dwight Ball announced his resignation, losing the race to Furey.

"I'm glad to be part of his team," Abbott said. "I'm looking forward to working with him as the new MHA, and first Liberal MHA, for St. John's East."

He said moving from behind the scenes into the MHA chair will be a change, but it's something he says he's ready to take on.

"It's going to be a significant change in my life and how I approach government. The many years as a senior civil servant advising ministers and premiers, now I'll be on the other end of it. The House will be a new experience for me, and something I'm certainly looking forward to."

Victories from Hogan and Abbott helped secure a Liberal majority government for Premier Andrew Furey. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press)

Although voter turnout dipped to an all-time low of 48 per cent in the challenging pandemic election, both Abbott and Hogan say the vote for a Liberal majority speaks for itself and they're ready to move forward.

"The important thing is that we did have the election, albeit there's lots of issues because of the pandemic," Abbott said.

"I think it's incumbent on the government when it is formed to move forward quickly with the many issues facing the province. Particularly, the economic recovery and the budget that we need to put in place."

Hogan added, "The fact that this province now has a strong majority government that's going to be there for four years, and we all know we're going to be there for four years, I think it's very important, something we all need to be happy about as we go forward now."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Kennedy works for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John's.

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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