27 October 2009

Libs win Straits

Marshall Dean took the by-election in the Straits and White Bay North this evening against Premier Danny Williams, just about all the provincial cabinet and millions in public cash.

Dean defeated provincial Conservative candidate Rick Pelley – former executive assistant to Trevor Taylor – and New Democrat Dale Colbourne.

The results (40 out of 40 polls) were:

Dean – 1925

Pelley – 1799

Colbourne – 320

The Straits was one of two by-elections won by the provincial Conservatives in 2001 and heralded by many as a sign of the ascendency of the Tories under Danny Williams. 

Trevor Taylor won the seat for the Tories.  The by-election Tuesday was necessitated by his unexpected resignation in September.

Danny Williams, the former cable television mogul,  was the only declared candidate to lead the provincial Conservatives at the time of the 2001 by-election in January 2001 and was acclaimed as leader a few weeks later. 

In many respects this Liberal victory is truly remarkable.  Williams’ Conservatives have been virtually unassailable for years and their bank account is full.  that’s exemplified by the 2008 financial reports which show the Tories raised the better part of $600,000 while the Liberals barely pocketed $40,000.

While Williams, his cabinet and long-time party organizers rushed to the district to back the Tory candidate, the Grits could rely on little more than moral encouragement from other parts of the province, a very small cadre of provincial organizers and whatever Dean could pull together himself. 

The next test will be a by-election in Terra Nova necessitated by the surprise resignation of Paul Oram only days after Taylor bailed out.