The three B.C. Liberal incumbents in the Central Okanagan spent liberally to win re-election earlier this year.
According to financial statements released by Elections B.C., MLAs Christy Clark (Kelowna West), Norm Letnick (Kelowna-Lake Country) and Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission) spent a total of $262,627 to hold on to their respective seats in the provincial election in May. Thomson spent the most at just under $95,000, with Letnick next at $87,418 and Clark—then party leader and premier—spending $80,282.
Clark has since quit politics, prompting the need for a byelection in her old riding in the next six months. NDP premier John Horgan is not expected to be in any hurry to call that byelection, given the riding is considered a safe Liberal seat and his NDP/B.C. Green partnership has just a two-seat majority in the B.C. Legislature.
The local Liberal trio, who dubbed themselves “Team Okanagan,” outspent their opponents by a large margin in the provincial election.
Kelowna West NDP candidate Shelley Cook, who ran a distant second to Clark, spent just over $22,000, while Letnick’s NDP challenger Erik Olesen, who also finished a distant second spent just under $8,900. Kelowna-Lake Country B.C. Green candidate Alison Shaw spent just over $20,000 to finish just behind Olesen.
The two other Kelowna West candidates, B.C. Green Robert Mellalieu and independent Brian Thiesen spent $1,398 and $1,357 respectively on their campaigns.
In Kelowna-Mission, Thomson, who like Letnick was a cabinet minister in Clark’s previous Liberal government, far outpaced his two challengers when it came to election spending. The NDP’s Harwinder Sandhu who spent $18,513 and Rainer Wilkins of the B.C. Green Party, who spent $352, also finished well behind their Liberal opponent.
And all that spending paid off for Clark, Letnick and Thomson. They all took more than 55 per cent of the vote in their respective ridings, with Thomson’s share amounting to just under 60 per cent.
As expected, the three all spent large portions of the election budgets on advertising and signs, with Clark shelling out $25,000 on media ads, Letnick spent $35,000 and Thomson $26,000.
Overall in the provincial election, the Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens three. The NDP and Greens then joined forces to oust Clark’s minority Liberal government in a vote of non-confidence following the Throne Speech earlier this summer and the NDP took power in B.C. for the first time in 16 years.