Richard Lochhead has been returned as Moray MSP for the SNP with an increased majority while voluntarily self-isolating at home.
The higher education and sciences minister had intended to attend the Elgin count until changing plan in the early hours of the morning, due to his son awaiting the results of a Covid test.
The town is in the grip of an outbreak of coronavirus as NHS Grampian pours resources into the area to get case numbers under control.
Mr Lochhead described keeping tabs on the count from his living room as taking “nail biting to a new level”.
‘I was on tenterhooks’
He said: “Circumstances dictated it was much more sensible for me to stay at home and not attend a large gathering while my son awaits a Covid test result – especially given what’s happening in Moray.
“My election agent continually texted me, although there were large gaps between some texts which made me all the more nervous.
“I was on tenterhooks, clearly, but I was to keep up to date with the national coverage with swings and trends.”
Both the SNP and Conservatives recorded their best-ever Scottish Parliament results in Moray while turnout increased from 54.1% to 65.1%.
Mr Lochhead secured 19,987 votes, more than 4,000 more than he did in 2016, while Conservative candidate Tim Eagle got 16,823, an increase of nearly 4,000 from the same year.
The results mean the SNP has tightened its grip on Moray, which it has held since devolution began, with a majority of 3,704.
And the newly-returned SNP MSP believes a positive message for the region has helped secure his fifth win in the constituency.
He said: “Clearly many issues have polarised Moray, I recognise that, and the Conservatives went heavy on a negative campaign against independence and there was historically a close Brexit result here.
“I’ve worked hard for the constituency though and I think people have recognised that and supported the leadership of our first minister in serious times.”
Conservatives secure record votes despite loss
Conservative candidate Mr Eagle praised his team for securing the party’s highest vote total in Moray.
He said: “Sadly it wasn’t to be this time. I think people engaged with our key issues locally, which were restoring the maternity unit at Dr Gray’s and fairer funds for the council because that’s roads’s bins and education.”
The other parties competing the Moray constituency count were Labour, whose vote reduced by about 600 to 2,972, the Liberal Democrats, whose numbers stayed about the same on 1,165, and Ukip, who secured 188 votes.