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Battleground riding of Saint John Harbour will see new MLA

Click to play video: 'Liberal Gerry Lowe not re-offering in Saint John Harbour' Liberal Gerry Lowe not re-offering in Saint John Harbour
Throughout the campaign, Global News will be taking a look at some of the key ridings to watch on election night. Gerry Lowe won the seat for the liberals in 2018 by just 10 votes, and kept it through a court challenge. But this time, as Travis Fortnum reports, Lowe is out of the race – Aug 19, 2020

In past elections the New Brunswick provincial riding of Saint John Harbour has been a battleground.

In 2018, Liberal MLA Gerry Lowe’s 10-vote win saw most of his first year in the job contested in court.

Read more: All our New Brunswick election 2020 coverage

Having announced this week he won’t be seeking re-election, Lowe’s not going to hazard a guess at how the campaign will end.

“I couldn’t predict and I don’t want to predict it,” he says with a laugh.

Outgoing Saint John Harbour MLA Gerry Lowe says getting into provincial politics was a “gigantic mistake.”. Travis Fortnum / Global News

Lowe is predicting the pandemic will impact how many residents in the riding head to the polls this time around.

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“I think 1,000 votes will win this riding this time,” he says.

Click to play video: 'Liberals and PC leaders set tone for their NB election campaigns' Liberals and PC leaders set tone for their NB election campaigns
Liberals and PC leaders set tone for their NB election campaigns – Aug 18, 2020

In announcing he wouldn’t re-offer, Lowe stated that provincial politics just hasn’t been what he expected.

“It’s turned out the way a lot of people warned me it would turn out. I thought they were wrong and I was the guy that was wrong,” says Lowe.

READ MORE: Saint John Harbour voter irregularities hearing gets lesson in statistics

Not wasting any time, New Brunswick Liberal Leader Kevin Vickers announced the new candidate for the riding on Wednesday morning/

The Liberals have tapped Alice McKim, a teacher at Saint John High School for the role.

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“This was a surprise to me, to be asked to run,” McKim told reporters.

READ MORE: Day 2 of New Brunswick election campaign shifts to economic development

As of Wednesday afternoon, other parties have not named their candidate for Saint John Harbour.

J.P. Lewis, a political science professor at the University of New Brunswick Saint John says that is one of the challenges of a quick campaign.

“Parties are going to be scrambling,” he says.

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“It’s such a rush to the polls it doesn’t allow parties as much time to vet candidates.”

“Saint John Harbour is a wildcard,” says political scientist J.P. Lewis. Travis Fortnum / Global News

Lewis says, given the quick turnaround, a full slate of candidates province-wide would be a power move for a party – but rushed vetting could see problematic candidates put in place.

Lewis also says the Saint John Harbour riding will be key for any party looking to form a majority government.

“They need to pick up Saint John Harbour,” Lewis says.

Now calling himself retired, Lowe says he hopes whoever wins his old MLA seat is up for the job.

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