It was possibly the defeat that was the most surprising of the provincial election of 2019.
NDP candidate Jordan Brown of Labrador City defeated incumbent Graham Letto by just five votes. Letto polled 1,361 votes to Browns 1,366. The PC candidate, Derick Sharron, polled 508 votes. The district has 5,992 eligible voters.
According to the Elections Act, any district where less than 10 votes seperates the first and second candidates is subject to a mandatory recount, which will likely be announced in the coming days.
When Letto returned to his headquarters it was an emotional moment. Most supporters firmly believed he would be elected as the area’s MHA for a second term.
Recently when the Labrador Voice asked Letto about the obvious support just by the number of signs on peoples lawns he said, “It’s not over till the polls are counted, and you can’t take anything for granted.”
Letto visited Brown soon after he was declared the victor. He was asked for his reaction and if there was anything he could contribute the defeat to.
“I was completely surprised, almost shocked, but if asked it was low voter turnout or any one particular factor, I really don’t know, I just can’t say. I don’t think I could have done any more.”
He says it will all have to wait for the recount.
Some were surprised when Premier Dwight Ball called the election when he did, and it left some parties scrambling for candidates. But soon in the game Brown decided to run for the NDP.
In the last provincial election Letto polled 1,453 votes while Ron Barron for the NDP polled 1,152. Labrador West has been a strong supporter of the NDP for many years, and there is no doubt the party has had strong union support.
Brown attributes his victory to strong support from young people in the area. He is just 30 and has a young family.
Brown thinks he struck a chord with young people, who want to live in Labrador west, have good jobs, good medical service, a good family life and more. He also says many of the NDP policies appeal to the young people in the area, and he found there was lots of support and people, who were willing to work for his victory. Brown, surrounded by family and friends, says his wife, who is attending school in St. John’s, was at NDP headquarters in St. John’s when they announced his victory, and saw her on TV, and her reaction. It was quite overwhelming.
Wabush Mayor Ron Barron, who ran in the last election for the NDP, says there was good support for the party in the last election, and Brown didn't lose sight of that.
He also thinks Letto's defeat was probably a vote against Dwight Ball. He added Letto worked hard for his constituents and he as mayor can attest to that.
PC Candidate Derick Sharron says the election was a clean campaign and as he dropped by to congratulate Brown, he wished him well.
"This is a new era in Labrador West politics,” Brown said.