One of the DUP’s safest seats, with one of it’s highest profile MPs, Lagan Valley will not be on the radar of anyone in search of a political upset.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has retained most of the personal votes he brought with him when he defected from the Ulster Unionists (UUP) in 2003 – resulting in a 41% swing from the UUP to the DUP at the 2005 general election and a current majority of 13,000.
He has been the party’s spokesman on a number of issues, including Troubles legacy cases,as well as sitting on a number of Westminster committees.
The UUP has selected the energetic Robbie Butler as its candidate in a constituency where one setback has followed another.
Having been unassailable under the steady hand of Jim Molyneaux for years, when Basil McCrea jumped ship to form NI21 he left the Ulster Unionists with no MLAs – and therefore no constituency office – in Lagan Valley.
At the last Assembly election, Butler’s share of the first preference votes rose to 6,846 (15.2% share) from 4,376 (11.3% share) in 2016 and could well rise again.
Another candidate likely to poll well is the popular SDLP candidate Pat Catney who pulled off a shock by winning a Stormont seat in March.
Catney’s success came at the expense of Brenda Hale, who missed out on what would have been the DUP’s third Assembly seat.
There are no Ukip or TUV candidates (who polled 2,200 and 1,887 votes respectively in 2015) this time around.
Veteran Alliance candidate Trevor Lunn will not be on the ballot paper on June 8 as the party has nominated Downshire East councillor Aaron McIntyre.
Candidates for 2017:
•Robbie Butler, UUP
•Pat Catney, SDLP
•Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP
•Aaron McIntyre, Alliance
•Ian Nickels, Conservative
•Jonny Orr, Independent
•Jacqui Russell, Sinn Fein
Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP): 19,055 (47.9%)
A Redpath (UUP): 6,055 (15.2%)
T Lunn (Alliance): 5,544 (13.9%)
P Catney (SDLP): 2,500 (6.3%)
A Love (UKIP): 2,200 (5.5%)
S Morrison (TUV): 1,887 (4.7%)
J McGeough (SF): 1,144 (2.9%)
J Orr (Ind.): 756 (1.9%)
H Osborne (Cons.): 654 (1.6%)
Turnout: 39,986 (56.2%)
Combined unionist vote: 74.9%
Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP): 18,199 (49.8%)
D Trimble (Ulster Cons. and Unionists): 7,713 (21.1%)
T Lunn (Alliance): 4,174 (11.4%)
K Harbinson (TUV): 3,154 (8.6%)
B Heading (SDLP): 1,835 (5%)
P Butler (SF): 1,465 (4%)
Turnout: 36,678 (56.2%)
Combined unionist vote: 79.5%