Even people who didn't vote for Jonah Schein agree it wasn't his fault he lost the election in Davenport.
The one-term NDP MPP was unable to hold onto his seat Thursday night, falling to Liberal challenger Cristina Martins by just over 2,000 votes as the Grits rolled to a majority government.
As the results began to trickle in shortly after 9 pm, supporters at both candidates' election night parties blamed the result on NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who has faced intense criticism for triggering the election by opposing the Liberal budget, widely considered among the most progressive in recent memory.
At Schein's gathering at Kitch, a trendy bar just north of Dupont and Dufferin, NDP supporter Eoin Harris said Horwath's populist turn had hung Schein and other Toronto New Democrats out to dry. Davenport wasn't the only Toronto riding lost by the NDP, who held five seats in the city going into the night. The Liberals took both Trinity-Spadina and Beaches-East York from the New Democrats, while in Parkdale-High Park NDP incumbent Cheri DiNovo held on by less than 600 votes.
"People were very angry that they didn't pass the budget," Harris said as Motown songs pumped over the sound system and a crowd dotted with bearded and tattooed thirthy-somethings did shots or drank tall cans of beer. "I talked to a lot of people who wanted to vote for Jonah, but wanted to punish the party."
Davenport is historically Liberal territory, but Schein took it in 2011 over Martins by 1,414 votes. In his three years in office he's championed issues like the electrification of the Union-Pearson Express line, voting reform, and unpaid internships. In his brief concession speech, he told the crowd he was disappointed in the election results but was "exceptionally proud of the work that we've been doing."
"Sometimes people say campaigns are not about anything. I think campaigns are about something. I think they're about people's hopes and aspirations and dreams, and I think those things last way longer than a six-week election cycle," Schein said, his partner Kristin and baby daughter Hope at his side.
Around the corner at the Casa do Alentejo community centre, dozens of Martins's supporters gathered in a banquet hall decorated with the flags of World Cup countries. The family-friendly crowd included grandparents and bored children playing on smartphones. As they ate from a buffet of Portuguese chicken and rice and watched the election coverage, few had bad things to say about Schein.
"He was great, I really liked him. But unfortunately I couldn't agree with what Andrea did" when she opposed the budget, said Paula Caetano.
Caetano said Martins, who speaks four languages, can relate to families in the ethnically-diverse riding.
In her victory speech, Martins said she had heard from many traditional NDPers who'd decided to vote Liberal.
"Today our community chose Kathleen Wynne's positive, progressive vision for Ontario," Martins said. "Ontarians want to see the Liberal budget passed... I'm so glad that I'm going to be a part of that."
Despite his loss, Schein's popularity in west Toronto has prompted speculation that he could run for council in the October election, which will remain open for nominations until September 12. He told reporters Thursday that it was too early to think about that, but Councillor Joe Mihevc, who attended Schein's party, said he wouldn't be out of place at City Hall.
"He would do a great job at any order of government, anywhere," Mihevc said. "He's just such a solid candidate, a solid progressive guy. He's a leader in this city and will be. He'll find his place."