The race between Jackie Tegart and Harry Lali was close, with Tegart at about a 600-vote lead when she was declared the riding’s victor around 9:40 p.m. on election night.
The outcome of Fraser-Nicola was indicative of the provincial trend – what some are calling a comeback victory for the Liberals in the province’s 40th election.
Some people at Lali’s campaign headquarters on Quilchena Avenue shared in the surprise at the Liberal victory in the riding and throughout the province.
“The provincial numbers fell, and we fell with them,” Lali told a crowd of about 30 people gathered at his campaign headquarters on Quilchena Avenue in Merrit. “It was a provincial thing. The voter turnout here is low, our voters stayed at home because everybody thought I was a shoo-in, that the government was a shoo-in. We went down with the wave.”
Lali congratulated Tegart on her victory and promised his supporters that they would take the next four years to “rebuild.” He also thanked his campaigners.
“I want to thank all of you for coming out and for being part of the campaign,” he said. “The first thing I want to tell you is this: it had nothing to do with our campaign. I was just talking to some folks in headquarters as well, and all of the polling, everything, indicated that we were going to be OK, provincially. It’s not because of anything we didn’t do.”
Lali said he has no immediate plans as to what’s next, but that he will take some time off to figure out his next move.
“I’m going to sleep in, do some R&R for a few days,” Lali said. “I’ve got a couple of weddings and functions to attend. Having said that, we’ll figure out what we’re going to do afterwards, but not going to worry about it right now.”
Lali and Tegart split the local community polling stations from Shalath to 70 Mile House, Tegart taking Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Loon Lake and Clinton, Lali winning Lillooet, Lytton and most of the First Nations communities such as Skeetchestn, Shalath and Xaxli’p.
Fraser-Nicola initial count:
Jackie Tegart (Lib) 5,539
Harry Lali (NDP) 4,785
John Kidder (Green) 1,174
Michael Beauclair (Cons) 832
Total votes cast: 12,330