With the preliminary results in for the Mount Pearl North byelection and Liberal candidate Jim Burton not having landed the seat, Premier Dwight Ball was circulating the room, thanking Burton’s campaign team and supporters.
Ball said he doesn’t see the result as a vote against the Liberals.
“Going into this election, we knew very well the odds were against us,” he told reporters, pointing to the district history, long held by the Tories.
“But I will guarantee you this, we will continue to work for those that supported us and those that supported all of the other candidates tonight.”
The premier entered the campaign headquarters with Burton, who received thunderous applause from the crowd after the polls were in.
“Am I disappointed? Absolutely I’m disappointed,” Burton told reporters. “I didn’t enter this to place second or third, but I also acknowledge the citizens of Mount Pearl, Mount Pearl North, they have exercised their democratic right and I’m accepting of that.”
He congratulated Progressive Conservative Jim Lester on his victory, while remaining non-committal about a 2019 run.
Lester won with 2,064 votes. Burton landed 1,129 votes, but New Democrat Nicole Kieley was close on his heels, with 1,088 votes, according to Elections Newfoundland and Labrador’s early, unoffical tally.
Kieley said between the organized party support and the public momentum she’s feeling, she’s already ready to run in 2019.
“I’m incredibly grateful,” she said, thanking friends, family and her entire NDP team.
“It’s not the results that we hoped for, but it’s certainly the type of results that we can build on, into some great momentum for the next two years.”
Kieley said she disagrees with the premier’s take on the byelection results, and the vote was absolutely a message to the governing Liberals — a vote against the status quo.
Notably, the 2015 general election drew 6,091 votes, while the byelection is believed to have drawn 4,402 votes, from 9,975 currently registered voters in the district.