Phoenix Lounge has grown quiet. Supporters of John van Dongen appear shocked, not just by the apparent defeat of the independent candidate, but the surprising victory of the BC Liberal Party.Allan Asaph, executive director of the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce said the electorate is saying “they think the Liberals are better at managing the province’s finances than the NDP would be,”He said he was completely surprised by the fact that all three Abbotsford ridings may go Liberal.
9:15 p.mSupporters are giving each other “high fives” at the announcement that the LIberals have won. Plecas is due to arrive at his campaign office in about 15 minutes, where he will be greeted by dozens of jubilant supporters. An Indian drum is being tested. People are milling about the door where Plecas will arrive.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman said while it’s still to early to comment on van Dongen, the city is like Switzerland. “We work with whoever is in power.”He called what looks like a strong Liberal showing provincially, is “surprising.”It just shows that today’s poll is the only one that counts, he said.
Van Dongen now trails Plecas by 700 votes.
Cheers erupt at Plecas’ office whenever another poll result comes in. Lots of excitement from supporters awaiting Plecas’ arrival.
9:05 p.m.The crowd at Phoenix Lounge got a litle quieter after the latest numbers showed that John van Dongen was now falling behind Darryl Plecas by more than 400 votes.While still early, looks of concern and murmurs are beginning to take place.No one from the van Dongen campaign is speaking to the media at this time as they await van Dongen’s arrival.
Cheers just rang out in Plecas’ office as it’s reported that “Darryl is crushing them!” in reference to his opponents. A buzz of excitement is filling the building. Plecas is due to arrive soon.
8:40 p.m.As the first few results start coming in, van Dongen supporters are remaining optimistic. Darryl Plecas has a small lead of about 70 votes over van Dongen with NDP candidate Lakhvinder JhaJ in third.Organizers are still waiting for van Dongen to arrive, but it may be closer to 9 p.m. before he greets his supporters.
8:25 p.m.Supporters are starting to gather at the campaign office on South Fraser Way for Abbotsford South Liberal candidate Darryl Plecas. The site is decorated in red and blue streamers and balloons (photo below).A few people have begun to occupy the seats in a large room in the building where a big-screen TV is broadcasting election reports. Plecas is expected to arrive at about 9 p.m.
8:15 p.m.The polls have officially closed and all that’s left is the waiting.Supporters of John van Dongen are slowly coming into the Phoenix Lounge in Abbotsford, hoping to enjoy a victory party.But there is always a nagging doubt that it could be a wake.The incumbent MLA is in a tight fight to retain his seat in the legislature.Now an independent, van Dongen is battling Liberal Darryl Plecas, the NDP’s Lahkvinder Jhaj and Steve Finlay of the Marijuana Party.After a long campaign, his supporters have a mix of excitement and nervousness as they await the early poll results.They are also waiting for van Dongen to arrive.”We’re looking forward to the end of a well fought campaign and we are optimistic that John will be the successful candidate at the end of the night,” said Justin P. Goodrich, president of van Dongen’s riding association.