Steve Crocker gets the ball rolling

N.L.’s new­est MHA set­ting up con­stituency of­fice in dis­trict

The Compass - - NEWS - BYMELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­ins@tc.tc

It didn’t take long for Lib­eral Steve Crocker of Heart’s De­light-Is­ling­ton to get to work fol­low­ing his vic­tory in the Trin­ity-Bay de Verde by­elec­tion last Tues­day.

“Wed­nes­day morn­ing I at­tended my first cau­cus meet­ing,” Crocker told The Com­pass dur­ing a phone in­ter­view Nov. 28. “I have to do an ori­en­ta­tion next week.”

Crocker de­feated Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date Ron John­son — fa­ther to for­mer MHA and cab­i­net min­is­ter Char­lene John­son — and NDP Tol­son Ren­dell.

He earned the seat with 3,074 votes, se­cur­ing the win for the party. John­son re­ceived 1,363, fol­lowed by Ren­dell with 254.

The seat be­came va­cant after Char­lene John­son re­signed in Septem­ber to move to South­east Asia with her fam­ily.

Crocker’s support

At a gath­er­ing of some 200-plus peo­ple Tues­day, Nov. 25 at Brown’s Restau­rant in White­way, the en­er­getic crowd cel­e­brated with ev­ery poll that was an­nounced.

The fact that the dis­trict was a Tory strong­hold for the last decade did not weigh on the minds of Crocker’s sup­port­ers.

As the re­sults kept com­ing in, the crowd be­gan to hoot and holler, know­ing Crocker would be suc­cess­ful in se­cur­ing the seat.

Crocker was joined by Op­po­si­tion Leader Dwight Ball and MHAs Tom Os­borne, Sam Slade, Paul Lane, Chris Mitchel­more, An­drew Par­sons, Lisa Demp­ster and Rex Hil­lier at the cel­e­bra­tion.

He spent much of his time thank­ing ev­ery­one in attendance, es­pe­cially his wife Nadine and two sons, Ben­jamin and Alexan­der, who were by his side from the mo­ment he ar­rived at a restau­rant.

“First of all, I want to thank my fam­ily,” Crocker told the more than 200 peo­ple who packed the restau­rant.

“There’s a bit of a story be­hind this, and I won’t go too far into it, but we were on a fam­ily va­ca­tion on Aug. 29th, and we got a phone call that there were things hap­pen­ing po­lit­i­cally back in Trin­ity-Bay de Verde. So we cut our va­ca­tion short and came right back home. So I owe them a va­ca­tion.”

This by­elec­tion was one of two taken by the Lib­er­als that evening, giv­ing the party seven by­elec­tions vic­to­ries in a row.

While the crowd waited for the lo­cal re­sults on a large pro­jec­tion screen, those for Hum­ber East, the other by­elec­tion, were be­ing al­ter­nated on the same screen.

En­ergy in the room grew as both sets of re­sults favoured the Lib­er­als from be­gin­ning to end.

“This morn­ing we had 100 peo­ple mo­bi­lized and work­ing, and the num­ber just grew all day. Thank you so much,” Crocker said.

“This is truly a very hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Plans

Crocker’s only prom­ise on the cam­paign trail is in progress — the es­tab­lish­ment of a con­stituency of­fice in his home dis­trict. Char­lene John­son didn’t have a con­stituency of­fice.

“We’ve started the process, so what’s go­ing to hap­pen, they’re go­ing to find me a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion for now,” Crocker ex­plained.

It could take be­tween three and four months to find a per­ma­nent place, and it will have to go through a pub­lic ten­der. He is hop­ing to lo­cate the of­fice in a cen­tral­ized part of the dis­trict. Some­where be­tween Heart’s Con­tent and Win­ter­ton would be ideal, he said.

He is also in the process of set­ting up his con­tact in­for­ma­tion, and he will have an of­fice con­tact num­ber as soon as the tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion is set up.

Although a date has not been con­firmed for when Crocker or new Hum­ber East MHA Stel­man Flynn will be sworn in, sources say it could be as early as Dec. 11 if the house re­mains open.

PCs shocked by re­sults

In the days fol­low­ing the by­elec­tion, so­cial me­dia blew up with com­ments on the PC party be­ing de­feated in seven straight by­elec­tions.

Some party mem­bers have pub­licly said they have felt be­trayed by prom­ises made to them go­ing door-to-door. Even Char­lene John­son, who is not known for be­ing blunt, used strong lan­guage to re­lay her frus­tra­tions.

“I am com­pletely dumb­founded,” she said. “I guess dad was right. We drove more Lib­er­als to the polls tonight.”

Ron John­son ac­cepted his de­feat gra­ciously, and con­grat­u­lated Crocker and Ren­dell on a good cam­paign. “(Crocker) got it and he de­serves it,” he said. He has con­firmed he won’t run again.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Steve Crocker is one of two new Lib­eral MHAs for the prov­ince, win­ning the seat in Trin­ity-Bay de Verde Tues­day, Nov. 25.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA Sam Slade (right) and Con­cep­tion Bay South MHA Rex Hil­lier clap along to a band that played live mu­sic at Brown’s Restau­rant in White­way after Steve Crocker’s vic­tory. Both Lib­eral MHAs earned their seats through by­elec­tions.

Photo by Melissa Jenk­ins/The Com­pass

Many of Steve Crocker’s sup­port­ers gath­ered around a pro­jec­tion screen, wait­ing im­pa­tiently for the re­sults of each poll to come in. Ev­ery­time Crocker would earn more votes than the PCs, the crowd would go wild.

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date Ron John­son speaks to his sup­port­ers at the Heart’s Con­tent fire hall shortly after con­ceed­ing de­feat. Stand­ing next to a child is John­son’s own daugh­ter, for­mer Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Char­lene John­son.

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