Obby Khan beats Willard Reaves in Manitoba election battle of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Photo edit: 3DownNation

Obby Khan of the Progressive Conservative Party has won the Fort Whyte district in the Manitoba provincial election over Willard Reaves of the Manitoba Liberal Party in a battle of former Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Khan, the incumbent, received 48.1 percent of the vote with 30 of 31 polls reporting, while Reaves received 37.0 percent. The New Democratic Party of Manitoba won the general election, earning 45.1 percent of the vote and winning a projected 33 of 57 seats. The party’s leader, Wab Kinew, will become the first First Nations premier in Canadian history.

Khan and Reaves faced off in a recent by-election on March 22, 2022 as the former received 3,050 votes, while the latter received 2,853. It was the closest result in the history of the district as the Progressive Conservatives won by a margin of 2.74 percent, which was down from 39.31 percent in the general election in 2019.

The Fort Whyte district is located in southwest Winnipeg and was formed in 1999 following the amalgamation of territory previously belonging to the districts of Fort Garry, St. Norbert, and Tuxedo. It is considered a Progressive Conservative stronghold as the party has held the seat since its inception, winning ten consecutive elections (seven general elections and three by-elections).

In 2019, the Progressive Conservatives won the Manitoba provincial election by a landslide, garnering 46.8 percent of the popular vote. Brian Pallister resigned as premier on Sept. 1, 2021 amid plummeting approval ratings and Heather Stefanson, formerly the provincial health minister, was sworn in as his replacement two months later following a tight leadership election.

The Manitoba Liberal Party hasn’t formed government in over 70 years and received only 11.3 percent of the popular vote on Tuesday, which was down from 14.6 percent in Manitoba’s most recent provincial election in 2019.

Khan played collegiately at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. before being selected with the second overall pick in the 2004 CFL Draft by the Ottawa Renegades. He became a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers two years later after he was taken with the second overall in the Ottawa dispersal draft after the team folded. Khan played six seasons with Winnipeg along the offensive line, helping the team reach the Grey Cup in 2007 and 2011.

Reaves enjoyed a sensational five-year run with the Blue Bombers during the 1980s as he rushed for 5,923 yards and 44 touchdowns and was named a CFL all-star four times. His best season came in 1984 when he carried the ball 304 times for 1,733 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named the league’s Most Outstanding Player. The club capped off the year with a one-sided victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Grey Cup, ending a 22-year championship drought.

Khan and Reaves have both lived in Manitoba since they retired from professional football. Khan owns a number of local businesses, while Reaves has worked as a sergeant with the Manitoba Sheriff Service.