Steve Crocker gets the ball rolling
N.L.’s newest MHA setting up constituency office in district
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.
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.”
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.
Steve Crocker is one of two new Liberal MHAs for the province, winning the seat in Trinity-Bay de Verde Tuesday, Nov. 25.
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.
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.
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.