Preet Rai has no regrets after losing local election

NDP candidate falls to longtime MLA Mike de Jong

Preet Rai sang a positive tune Tuesday evening as he looked back on his run for Abbotsford West MLA despite a resounding defeat to longtime incumbent Mike de Jong.

“No regrets ever,” he said.

Rai’s bid to become the first NDP representative in the riding fell short, as he received a little more than half as many votes as his BC Liberal opponent.

De Jong was declared the presumptive winner less than an hour after polls closed Tuesday evening, but Rai waited some time before conceding and addressing his supporters at Gian’s Sweets restaurant on South Fraser Way.

Abbotsford West 2017
Create line charts

“We did really well but it wasn’t meant to be,” Rai said.

He told The News low voter turnout was to blame for his defeat.

“I think voters were quite unhappy with what was going on and didn’t show up,” Rai said. “We tried to get voters out; we probably didn’t do enough but we had a very positive, good campaign.”

Rai’s campaign included a team of volunteers who made phone calls, knocked on doors and put signs around town.

“It was an amazing run. Things didn’t work out and – you know what? – that’s democracy and somebody has to win and somebody has to lose,” he said.

Rai also participated in a series of all-candidates meetings where he debated policy with de Jong and other opponents.

In the Abbotsford-Mission and Abbotsford South ridings, the NDP ran nearly non-existent campaigns. Their candidates – Jasleen Arora and Andrew Christie – were both Metro Vancouver residents who failed to attend all-candidates meetings and did not open campaign offices. They could not be reached for interviews on election night.

Looking ahead, Rai said he wasn’t sure exactly what it would take for a left-of-centre NDP candidate to break through in staunchly conservative Abbotsford.

“I think we’ll have to reconsider and see what’s going on [and] what we could have done differently but we don’t know yet.”