Scot Davidson had a big lead early and kept it until every ballot was counted.
The Conservative Party of Canada candidate went on to win the York-Simcoe by-election, earning 8,929 votes (all 136 polls reporting), and 53.9 percent of the vote – far ahead of Liberal candidate Shaun Tanaka, who finished in second place with 4,811 votes (29 percent).
Voter turn-out was at an historic low. Only 16,564 of the more than 83,000 registered voters in the riding, or 19.91 percent, braved the high winds and blowing snow on Monday to to cast a ballot in an election that will be repeated in seven months.
In 2015, the last federal election, 48,111 voters cast their ballots in York-Simcoe.
Davidson’s supporters gathered at the Royal Canadian Legion in Sutton, to watch as the numbers came in. Among those present were former MP Peter Van Loan, whose resignation last year left the seat vacant and led to the by-election. Former MPP Julia Munro was also on hand.
Campaign worker Carol Collier, a Bradford resident, was also on hand.
“It’s been a long, busy campaign,” Collier said. “I couldn’t keep up with Scot.”
She had her own take on Davidson’s success in the by-election. “People love him at the door. He’s very personable,” Collier said. “And when you see what’s happening in Ottawa, with trust – one scandal after another…”
Davidson, a life-long Sutton resident and local entrepreneur, was greeted with cheers from supporters as he arrived at the Legion, giving a thumbs up.
“Friends, thank you to everyone who came out, and thank you to York-Simcoe tonight,” Davidson said.
He especially thanked both the volunteers who worked on his campaign, and small business owners who have supported his efforts.
“It’s a Conservative stronghold, but the volunteers and the former MP have worked hard to keep this riding Conservative,” he said.
With wife Suzanne Howes and son Graydon at his side, Davidson said he was “very proud to carry the Conservative banner,” and to “send a message to Justin Trudeau: Your days are numbered!”
Davidson called his win “exciting – it truly is. Mind you, we have to do this again in October,” an acknowledgment of the October federal election. “This was much like golf for me – a practice run.”
And he had a promise for the voters who elected him MP: “I’m going to work every day, starting tonight, to get what I can get done. I’ll work as hard at this as at anything I’ve every done in my life,” Davidson said.
Liberal candidate Shaun Tanaka and her supporters were in Keswick, watching the results come in.
Although disappointed by her second-place finish, Tanaka said, “I’m really proud of how hard we ran. We couldn’t have run any harder. I think it was a strong message of supporting the family, protecting the environment… I wanted to see strong representation, working alongside the government in Ottawa.”
She suggested that low voter turnout and the wintry weather that blasted the riding during February and hampered campaigning contributed to her loss.
Asked if she would consider running again, in seven months, Tanaka said, “My mind is just focusing on the campaign at hand.”
She said she’d need to consult with her family, before making a decision on any future run for office.
There were nine candidates running in the York-Simcoe by-election. NDP candidate Jessa McLean was a distant third, with 1,244 votes, or 7.5 percent of the vote.
Dorian Baxter, Progressive Canadian Party, was fourth, with 634 votes (3.8 percent).
“I can’t believe this,” said Baxter. “I’m very, very encouraged.”
Baxter, who is also Archbishop of the Christ the King, Graceland Independent Anglican Church in Newmarket and an Elvis tribute artist, was clear about his future election plans.
“I am positioning myself for the federal election,” Baxter said. “I’ve got more and more people joining my team.” And stepping into his Elvis Priestley person, he said, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Matthew Lund (Green) had 451 votes, or 2.7 percent. Robert Geurts (People's Party of Canada) garnered 314 votes, or 1.9 percent, a disappointing showing for Maxime Bernier's new party.
Keith Komar (Libertarian) had 95 ballots (0.6 percent), John "The Engineer" Turmel (Ind.) 64 (0.4 percent), and Adam Suhr (National Citizens Alliance), 22 or 0.1 percent.