In her third try at elected office, NDP candidate Gwen O'Mahony's dogged persistence finally paid off last Thursday as voters chose her as the new MLA for Chilliwack-Hope.
She deserves congratulations for her victory in what may have been the most hotly contested, and unpredictable, provincial or federal election in Chilliwack's recent history.
At the very least, her win is notable in that she made history, as the first-ever New Democrat to be elected in the riding that we are aware of.
Usually, it's pretty obvious which candidate Chilliwack voters - indeed, voters in most central Fraser Valley ridings - will choose.
It was nice then, to see people heading to the voting box with a sense that their vote would actually make a difference.
At least for a year or so. In 13 short months, voters in Chilliwack and ridings across the province will head to the polls to pick a new government.
In Chilliwack-Hope, O'Mahony will have to reproduce this year's victory.
Whether she is able to do so will likely depend on the twinned fortunes of the B.C. Conservatives and the B.C. Liberals.
Which brings us to vote-splitting. It bears keeping in mind that both the left and the right fall victim to votes split among multiple parties.
(Stephen Harper's Conservatives govern with a majority despite receiving less than 40 per cent of the popular vote, thanks in part to a federal vote split in last year's election.)
The B.C. Liberals will heap blame upon John Cummins, but they have to face the fact they are largely the reason for the rise of the B.C. Conservatives.
If the HST didn't exist, if there wasn't a bad taste left over from the B.C. Rail affair, if there weren't questions about Liberal leadership lurking in the corner, and if there weren't other nagging issues hovering around the B.C. Liberals, the B.C. Conservative Party may not exist.
Whether they can rebuild their coalition remains to be seen. But their defeat in Chilliwack-Hope could be a sign that their brand is in tatters, in even the safest of seats.
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