EDMONTON - Wild predictions of eight or more seats died out as results rolled in for the NDP Monday night, but the party still doubled its number of MLAs.
NDP Leader Brian Mason called four seats a "bittersweet" victory.
"I'd hoped for more. I think we had some excellent candidates and they were very close," Mason said. "But we have four. That gives us official party status and we can be that voice in the legislature that stands up for public health care."
NDP supporters crowded around the TV screens at the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel late into the evening as many tight races kept updating. A victorious David Eggen brought back the mood of celebration when he walked in and got the crowd chanting. Eggen was leading by 541 votes with 77 of 81 polls reporting. Newcomer Deron Bilous also knocked out incumbent PC Tony Vandermeer in Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview by a narrow margin.
NDP incumbents Mason, in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, and Rachel Notley, in Edmonton-Strathcona, won their seats easily earlier in the night.
Edmonton-Gold Bar candidate Marlin Schmidt walked in with a glum face, but the crowd cheered him anyway. He lost a tight race against Tory candidate David Dorward. Shannon Phillips also fell behind in Lethbridge-West, despite her endorsement by popular former mayor Bob Tarleck.
The NDP had hoped for a strong third-place finish to give them the balance of power in a minority government, but the strong showing by the Progressive Conservatives eliminated that possibility.
"You never underestimate the PCs," said Notley, whose win was declared just 40 minutes after the polls closed.
Getting the balance of power was a long shot anyway, said Brian Stokes, party provincial secretary. "A minority or majority, we ran on principals and we'll promote them in the legislature."
Edmonton Journal, Mon Apr 23 2012
Byline: Elise Stolte