Ontario Liberal Leadership: Sousa, Kennedy drop out, throw support to Wynne

Leadership candidate Kathleen Wynne stands with her camp after the second ballot REUTERS/Mark Blinch
The announcement that Sandra Pupatello had increased her lead at the Ontario Liberal Party leadership convention was followed quickly by the announcement that trailing candidates Gerard Kennedy and Charles Sousa had dropped out of the contest.

What could have been a powerful celebration for Pupatello became a whimpering one when both exiting candidates publicly endorsed her chief rival. It looked like this:

As Sousa made his way through a cheering crowd of Wynne supporters, Kennedy was standing somewhere waiting. When the cheering stopped for Sousa, Kennedy took his turn marching across the floor.

It was powerful, it was commanding and it will likely, ultimately, prove to be too much for Sandra Pupatello to recover from in this race.

Pupatello’s second-round lead of 67 points suddenly seems inconsequential, absolutely meaningless as heavyweight after heavyweight threw waves of support in Wynne’s direction.

There will be a third round of voting, with only Wynne and Pupatello on the ballot. It will be the final vote before the Ontario Liberal Party chooses the province’s first female premier.

Will Ontario get its first female premier?

Here are the vote counts after the second round of voting:

After Round 2 (Round 1):

  • Sandra Pupatello: 817 votes (599)
  • Kathleen Wynne: 750 votes (597)
  • Gerard Kennedy: 285 votes (281)
  • Charles Sousa: 203 votes (222)
  • Harinder Takhar: 18 votes (235)

Takhar’s vote count took such a steep drop because he backed Pupatello after Round 1 without officially dropping out of the race. He will be officially removed from the next round of voting. The leadership race will continue until one of the candidates receives more than 50 per cent of the support. With Sousa and Kennedy supporting Wynne, there is every chance in the world she will be the victor.

[ Related: Ontario Liberal leadership candidates make pitch to be premier ]

Rumours swirled before the vote was announced of where trailing candidates would direct their supporters. Words like kingmaker (or, more specifically, queenmaker) have begun falling from lips around the former Maple Leaf Gardens.

Eric Hoskins supported Wynne once he was removed from the ballot after the first round and Takhar has publicly thrown his weight behind Pupatello.

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