Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, running as a federal Conservative, was victorious Monday in a close race in South Surrey-White Rock over her Liberal rival.
The polls for the federal election closed at 7 p.m. Monday. Nearly three hours later, the MP-elect delivered a victory speech, with about 10 per cent of the polls left to be counted.
Candidates include Larry Colero (Green), Judy Higginbotham (Liberal), Pixie Hobby (NDP), Bonnie Hu (Libertarian), Brian Marlatt (Progressive Canadian) and Watts.
With all 209 polls reporting, unofficial results show Watts leading with 24,934 ballots followed by Higginbotham (23,495), Hobby (5,895), Colero (1,938), Hu (261) and Marlatt (108).
That gave Watts 44 per cent of the vote, over Higginbotham’s 41.5 per cent.
Hobby, winning 10.4 per cent of the vote, deemed herself out of the running much earlier in the evening. By 8:30 p.m., she told her supporters: “The voters have made their decision and I accept it.”
However, the Liberals, despite the loss in South Surrey-White Rock, have reason to celebrate, as they took an early lead on the national stage.
Despite various boundary changes through the years, the riding that has contained the Semiahmoo Peninsula has for 40 years been a right-wing stronghold.
Departing MP Russ Hiebert – who announced in February 2014 that he would not seek re-election – was first elected in 2004 with 43 per cent of the vote, when the riding was South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale. In 2006, he increased his lead to 47 per cent of the vote, and in 2008 he won the riding with nearly 57 per cent of votes cast for him.
In 2011, Hiebert was re-elected for a fourth term, with 54 per cent of the vote in an election that saw a record nine candidates run in the riding.
Prior to Hiebert, the riding was named South Surrey-White Rock-Langley and was held by longtime right-wing MP Val Meredith, first elected as a member of the Reform party in 1993 when the riding was Surrey-White Rock-South Langley. Meredith re-elected in 1997 as a Reform candidate, and again in 2000 as a Canadian Alliance candidate, prior to the party transitioning into the current Conservative Party of Canada.
Going back even further, Progressive Conservative MP Benno Friesen first won in the riding of Surrey-White Rock in 1974, and served five terms in office until 1990, though the riding added North Delta to its name for middle three terms before reverting.
The last non-right-wing candidate to win election in the area was the NDP’s Barry Mather, who was last elected in 1972 in Surrey-White Rock, after he was won the first of five terms in 1962 when the New Westminster riding (established in 1872) comprised the area.