03/19/2012 09:28 EDT | Updated 05/19/2012 05:12 EDT

NDP wins in Jack Layton's former riding

Jack Layton’s former riding will remain NDP orange after rookie candidate Craig Scott easily won Monday’s byelection in the federal riding of Toronto-Danforth.

Scott, a law professor and human rights lawyer, held off a challenge from Liberal Grant Gordon.

Scott captured almost 60 per cent of the vote (19,210 total votes) while Gordon was a distant second with 29 per cent (9,215 votes). Conservative Andrew Keyes had five per cent of the vote.

Roughly 43 per cent of the 74,500 eligible voters actually cast ballots, Elections Canada reported, down from 64.9 per cent in the general election last year.

Layton loomed large over byelection

Monday’s result ends what was a muted race over which Layton’s name loomed large.

Leading the party in last May’s federal election, Layton hoisted the NDP to Official Opposition status for the first time in its history before falling ill to the cancer that claimed his life in August.

In his victory speech, Scott praised Layton and vowed to continue his push to hold the governing Conservatives to account.

"It looks like the orange crush is here to stay," said Scott. Echoing words from Layton's famous final letter, Scott said "we have chosen love, we've chosen hope, we've chosen optimism."

The Liberals conceded their loss at about 9:15 p.m., before the NDP win was official.

Gordon took the loss in stride and congratulated Scott, calling him "highly qualified" to serve as MP.

"It's just like losing a hockey game," he said. "We played great, we held our heads high ... but this is just the first game of a series."

The win boosts the NDP standing in the Commons to 102 seats.

The Conservatives remain in the majority with 165 seats, the Liberals have 35, the Bloc Québécois four seats, the Green Party one, and there's one independent.

Layton's widow and Toronto-Spadina MP Olivia Chow called Scott a "principled and smart" man who "shared the same values" as her late husband and would stay true to the former NDP leader's vision.

Gordon, whose campaign began late, had the help of Liberal heavyweight, interim party leader Bob Rae who once held the riding as a New Democrat, and MP Justin Trudeau, but their presence had little impact.

On the weekend, the NDP will hold a convention in Toronto to choose a national leader to replace Layton.