Ontario, meet Bobbi Ann Brady.
The newest face on the political scene is Haldimand-Norfolk’s newly elected independent MPP.
The Progressive Conservative party may have expected a cakewalk when they appointed Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt to run under their banner in the largely rural riding.
But Hewitt was left to eat humble pie on election night as Brady — who was hand-picked by retiring PC MPP Toby Barrett as his successor before being rejected by party brass — shot to victory as an independent candidate.
“We are here tonight because the people of this great riding decided that democracy had been sidelined and they weren’t going to stand for it,” said Brady to over a hundred volunteers and supporters at her Simcoe campaign office.
“Everywhere I went, everywhere we went, people said to us, this isn’t right,” she added, saying she wondered if that feeling was enough to convince residents in the staunchly Conservative riding to vote outside party lines.
“And people did,” Brady said. “And that is a testament to the type of people we have here in Haldimand-Norfolk.”
Brady, Barrett’s executive assistant for 23 years, led from the jump and never looked back.
She claimed 35.05 per cent of the vote while Hewitt took in 30.49 per cent.
Sarah Lowe of the NDP finished third.
Hewitt stayed out of the spotlight during the campaign, skipping all-candidates meetings and declining media interviews in favour of canvassing door-to-door.
“Because of the short time we had, we really wanted to get in front of people and focus on getting our message out,” Hewitt told reporters at his election night party in Port Dover.
That strategy backfired as voters turned out en masse for Brady, whose entry in the race as an independent who could muster support from Barrett loyalists and left-leaning voters alike made for the most unsettled political picture the riding had seen in a generation.
“The choice we took to run this campaign was to be a part of a team, and that team was the Ford team,” Hewitt said. “And he’s won a majority government. I congratulate him and all those that won.”
62 of 62 polls reporting
Bobbi Ann Brady (IND): 15,921 (35.05 per cent)
Ken Hewitt (PC): 13,851 (30.49 per cent)
Sarah Lowe (NDP): 6,311 (13.89 per cent)
Aziz Chouhdery (LIB): 3,329 (7.33 per cent)
Sheldon Simpson (OP): 2,353 (5.18 per cent)
Erik Coverdale (GP): 1,841 (4.05 per cent)
Nate Hawkins (NB): 1,454 (3.20 per cent)
Thecla Ross (FP): 268 (0.59 per cent)
George McMorrow (IND): 99 (0.22 per cent)
J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator