Sam Slade byelection win gives Liberals pre-election mojo
Carbonear-Harbour Grace win brings Liberal caucus to eight seats
Sam Slade, who won Tuesday byelection in Carbonear-Harbour Grace, said the Liberal reclaiming of a Tory seat has a seasonal message for Premier Kathy Dunderdale's Tories.
"Mr. Ball, I want you to bring a message to Kathy Dunderdale from Sam Slade," he told cheering supporters as Liberal Leader Dwight Ball beamed at his side.
"Tell her she's getting an early Christmas gift, and Sammy Claus is coming."
The byelection was called when Jerome Kennedy, who had been the finance minister in Dunderdale's cabinet, quit politics in October to return to his law career in St. John's.
The byelection gives the Liberals its eighth seat in the house of assembly, a gain of two since the 2013 election. Former Tory cabinet minister Tom Osborne, who had initially left the PCs to sit as an Independent, joined the Liberal caucus in August.
Slade, Carbonear's mayor, took 2,769 votes, well ahead of Progressive Conservative candidate Jack Harrington. New Democrat Charlene Sudbrink trailed with 410 votes.
Speaking with a throng of supporters outside his campaign headquarters, Slade said he was thankful for the support he received on the campaign trail.
"It's always, always about the people. I'm so proud here tonight," said Slade, who said he'll bring the work ethic he had as mayor to his new job.
"I've been working as the mayor for 20 years, I've supported the people in Carbonear, I've been working with the people of Carbonear. I return all my calls," he said.
"And now Sam Slade, the MHA for Carbonear-Harbour Grace, needs to get to work for the people in the district."
'People are looking for change'
Ball, who won the Liberal leadership earlier this month, said the byelection victory sets the party up well for the road to the 2015 election.
"We heard it door to door. People are looking for change," Ball said.
"We're very united. We're a party now that's showing momentum throughout the province."
Voters in Carbonear-Harbour Grace — a district formed before the 1996 election from parts of two districts of the same names — have historically tended to vote with the party that forms the government.
Tuesday's vote may raise new questions for Dunderdale and the Tories, who have been languishing in third place in recent opinion polls.
"Time for our party to take a hard look at the future. Enough is enough," tweeted Paul Oram, a former Tory cabinet minister.
He later added on his Twitter feed that the governing Tories are doing a good job, but are not communicating their messages well.
"People working and making higher wages than ever!!! NL leading the country in economic growth. Yet we lose another [byelection]," he tweeted.