Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey on Tuesday won the byelection in the Humber-Gros Morne district, securing a seat in the House of Assembly previously held by his predecessor Dwight Ball.
The official announcement was still pending Tuesday evening but, with all 45 polls reporting, Furey had 3,401 votes for the Liberals, followed by Progressive Conservative candidate Mike Goosney with 1,332. Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance Leader Graydon Pelley received 464 votes, while the NDP's Graham Downey-Sutton tallied 121.
Polls closed at 8 p.m., local time, marking the conclusion of a high-profile campaign in which all four parties in the province fielded candidates, in its first election during the pandemic.
Moments after hearing the results, Furey took to the podium alongside his family at campaign headquarters in Deer Lake, joined by close to 30 supporters, wearing a face mask and sharing elbow bumps with the cheering crowd. He spoke directly to his children, thanking them for their support throughout the campaign.
"I've been away a lot lately. I've missed the soccer practices, the hockey practices, the voice [lessons] and the homework. But I also know that you understand what this means to us and to the province. I'm doing this for you, and I couldn't do it without you," he said.
Furey also took the time to thank Ball, who helped him on the campaign trail.
"I have some big shoes to fill," he said.
'Tomorrow, the hard work begins'
Concluding his speech, Furey said the province's road to recovery, be it from economic challenges or those of the COVID-19 pandemic, is long. However, he said the province is headed in the right direction.
I have some big shoes to fill. - Andrew Furey
"Tonight, for a brief moment, we will celebrate," Furey said. "But tomorrow, the hard work begins again."
After his victory speech, Furey told reporters the seat has sentimental meaning.
"My uncle represented a portion of this riding, there's some sentimental value attached to this for me," Furey said, referring to Chuck Furey — a former provincial cabinet minister. "I'm very humbled by the support I received tonight. Looking forward to doing the hard work that the people of Humber-Gros Morne deserve."
Furey, an orthopedic surgeon and the founder of the Team Broken Earth organization that has organized medical missions to Haiti and other countries, told reporters he is committed to running in the seat in the next provincial election, even though he doesn't live in the district.
"I've worked hard for people in other parts of the world," Furey said.
"You don't have to live where you can make an impact. I think I've shown that in the past. And I plan to do that for the people of Humber-Gros Morne and make it a regular stop."
Competitors had been hoping for breakthrough
Before the polls closed, Furey's competitors said they felt good progress was made in the district, which has been held by the Liberals since it was formed in a redistribution before the 2015 election.
"Sometimes it takes a little longer for people to understand what you're offering," said Pelley, the NL Alliance leader.
"But the conversations I've had throughout this campaign have been phenomenal … it's very important to people to have a representative that's here present with them all the time."
"Win or lose, I feel like we won right from the start by having my name on the ballot," said Goosney, the Tory candidate. "I had a great team of support … no matter which way this turns tonight, I'll keep continuing to work for the people."