Close win in Kirkfield Park byelection may not bode well for PCs in long run: expert

It was all cheers as Premier Heather Stefanson and newly elected MLA Kevin Klein were greeted by supporters following a narrow PC victory in the Kirkfield Park byelection Tuesday night.

Klein won as the Tories held on to the blue seat, at least for now.

“I feel great about the result,” said Klein.

Klein won the seat by a mere 160 votes over closest rival Logan Oxenham from the NDP.

Liberal Rhonda Nichol finished third, the Greens Dennis Bayomi a distant fourth.

Nervous PC supporters had to wait until the advance vote at the end for the former city councillor and mayoral candidate to squeak out a win.

“I think when the Winnipeg Jets win by one goal in overtime, they still win. A wins a win.”

Despite losing the contest, NDP Leader Wab Kinew feels the close vote is an indication his party can win this seat and the general election next year.

“Logan Oxenham the NDP candidate just about unseated a star candidate in a safe blue seat, I mean there’s a lot of positives to take out of that,” said Kinew.

This is the second byelection this year where the PCs had to eke out a win in a traditional Tory constituency. In March, Obby Khan edged Liberal Willard Reaves in Fort Whyte.

Mary Agnes Welch from polling firm Probe Research says she expected Klein would win with his name recognition but was surprised by how close the outcome was.

“It could be a fairly short-lived sort of tenure for MLA Kevin Klein,” said Welch.

The Tories are low in the general polls.

Welch said if those sentiments are right, the NDP could win next year’s general election including in Kirkfield Park.

“If you’re Heather Stefanson you’re going to take what wins you can, but I don’t know that this is a harbinger of what’s to come next year.”

On Tuesday night as she introduced Klein, the premier called this a great victory, using it to rally supporters on hand.

“This is just the start, this is a continuation, and I will tell you we will come to victory in 2023,” said Stefanson.

The NDP did hold the Kirkfield Park seat between 2007 and 2016. 

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