Murray Rankin may have won Monday’s federal byelection in the Victoria riding, but the Orange wave didn’t roll until late in the evening.
Donald Galloway and the Green Party proved themselves the only real contender besides the NDP, while the Liberals and Conservatives struggled to gain momentum.
Frontrunner Rankin, an environmental lawyer who has worked for the provincial NDP, surged ahead only in the final hour of poll results, taking a commanding 1,200-vote lead. At several points throughout the night, Galloway and Rankin swapped the lead.
Galloway, a 60-year-old law professor at the University of Victoria, seemed stunned by his own success earlier on, before conceding to Rankin at about 10:35 p.m.
“I think we’ve won, whatever happened,” he said, dressed in a green scarf and fleece sweater. “We’ve run a fabulous campaign. I don’t think they (the NDP) expected this.”
NDP supporters at the Fairmont Empress, who had been anxious for most of the night, were jovial after Rankin’s victory speech.
“Like Paul McCartney’s long and winding road, I never expected it to be quite such a nailbiter,” said Rankin, 62. “But at the end of the day, we won, and that’s the thing I treasure. It was an amazing team that got us here.”
Conservative candidate Dale Gann was expected to finish with roughly 14 per cent support, while Liberal candidate Paul Summerville had nearly 13 per cent of the vote.
Rankin’s victory – he succeeds retired NDP MP Denise Savoie – confirmed there would be no change in the party totals in Ottawa after the night’s byelections.
The vote in Calgary Centre saw Conservative Joan Crockett fight off a surging Liberal candidate, while Erin O’Toole maintained the Conservative stronghold of Durham, Ont.