By the time TVO's Steve Paikin declared the government of Kathleen Wynne re-elected at 10:43 p.m., the MPP from Don Valley West had made history as the first elected woman Premier of Ontario. Soon after, he would declare hers as a majority government.
In the words of former Progressive Conservative MPP Peter Shurman, the reason Kathleen Wynne won was precisely because she was and still is the "best salesperson" of the decade old, scandal-ridden Liberal brand in Ontario. In the election, she faced a Tea Party-like candidate in Tim Hudak and a non-principled and surprisingly populist voice in Andrea Horwath.
Both of these candidates underestimated the electorate as they moved their respective parties to the far right. The NDP was even criticized by its core supporters in the middle of the election for venturing into unknown territory in a publicly released letter by NDP heavyweights such as Michele Landsberg and Winnie Ng.
"In this election, we are seriously considering not voting NDP," and "from what we can see you are running to the right of the Liberals in an attempt to win Conservative votes. It is not clear whether you have given up on progressive voters or you are taking them for granted," the letter read.
The party activists responded by calling the authors of the letter as "old NDP" -- mirroring the second class language of one-time American Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who once called Germany and France "old Europe" for not blindly supporting the Iraq war.
This gave ammunition for local Liberal candidates to attack the NDP on the ground and gave way for the defeat of MPPs such as Davenport MPP Johan Schein, the uninspiring Beaches East York's Michael Prue and the antique Trinity Spadina's Rosario Marchese. Once you take the progressive signature of the NDP, is there any reason to support them anymore?
Tim Hudak embraced a set of ideals that seemed far to the right and full of bad mathematics. He missed the opportunity to take the party to where successful Progressive Conservative Premier's such as Bill Davis, John Robarts and Leslie Frost did. He attempted to embrace the former Premier Mike Harris Common Sense Revolution era of two decades ago instead of his own. He failed just the way Ernie Eves did in 2003.
Ontario lives in the political radical middle and is more moderate -- in principle, ideas and people -- than assumed. Kathleen Wynne understood that more than either the PCs under Hudak or the ONDP under Horwath.
Just look at the results. For the first time ever, the Liberals have more diversity in their caucus including a record three black MPPs elected at the same time in Michael Coteau, Mitzie Hunter and Granville Anderson. This was no accident as diversity has been a big mojo for this Premier.
In celebration of her victory, she remarked how, as a woman and a lesbian, if "I can become Premier, anybody can become one." She was obviously reflecting the talent and future leadership candidacy of MPPs such as Michael Coteau of Don Valley East and Yaser Naqvi of Ottawa Center.
Wynne also made a comeback kid out of former Prime Minister Paul Martin, who tasted a humbling electoral defeat almost a decade ago in Ottawa. Not only did he endorse and had a role in the campaign but he also became her top adviser in the Liberal's signature campaign idea -- the new Ontario Pension Plan. His once defeated, neglected and ridiculed senior advisers -- Richard Mahoney, Tim Murphy and David Herle -- even managed the winning campaign against former Chretien Lieutenants such as Warren Kinsella, who has, in recent months, been endorsing a slew of NDP candidates from Joe Cressy, to Jonah Schein, to former NDP MP and Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow.
The 25th Premier of Ontario deserves our congratulations. That is whether one supported her or not.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this blog claimed that Warren Kinsella was working with NDP candidates. He is not. We regret the error.