The 2022 provincial election is in the books and Progressive Conservative incumbent Doug Downey was re-elected Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte (BSOM) last night, meaning it's time to "get back to work.”
Downey was riding a wave of emotion Thursday night after a back-and-forth battle with Liberal candidate Jeff Lehman, Barrie's three-term mayor who took a leave of absence to run for the MPP seat.
In the end, Downey pulled out the victory by 609 votes, according to unofficial results from Elections Ontario.
“A win is a f--king win,” Downey said when he stepped up to the podium at Vespra Hills Golf Club just outside the city limits.
It was the first time Downey had looked relieved all night.
That blue exclamation was followed by Downey’s voice cracking as he became emotional while thanking his family, friends and supporters.
“For their door knocking, driving, food, late-night conversations, I say thank you," he said. “(There's) so much to do, let's dig in, but not tonight.”
Downey, who also held the attorney-general portfolio for the last several years, told BarrieToday he was eager to return to Queen's Park for a second term coming out of the pandemic.
“Well, it's time to get back to work," he told BarrieToday. "We’re going to focus on the economy, building jobs, setting up workers and skilled trades. We have to get back to work and back to business and start building the province."
Everyone was glued to their phones Thursday night as they watched poll results trickle in. At one point, Lehman led by as little as two votes for 30 minutes. People at Downey’s election party was constantly refreshing their screens for the latest updates.
One “longtime” Downey supporter told BarrieToday she knew it would be close, “but this is turning my stomach kind of close.”
The race throughout the province wasn’t nearly as close. PC Party Leader Doug Ford was declared the winner 10 minutes after polls closed, winning by an even larger majority than he did in 2018.
In the wake of the landslide Tory victory, Liberal Party Leader Steven Del Duca stepped down after losing in his home riding.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who did win her riding, also stepped down after three attempts with her party to gain power in the province. Horwath said it was "time for me to pass the torch.”
The Barrie area remains a sea of Tory blue, with Downey and Andrea Khanjin (Barrie-Innisfil) both being re-elected to second terms. Elsewhere around the county, PC incumbents Jill Dunlop (Simcoe North) and Caroline Mulroney (York-Simcoe) also won their ridings again, while Collingwood Mayor Brian Saunderson won his first term in Simcoe-Grey.
Downey said he was happy to see the party's success across the province.
“The premier, the PC team and the progress we’ve made over the last four years across the province is unbelievable and we’ve been rewarded with a second term and I couldn't be prouder to be part of that team under the leadership of Doug Ford,” said Downey.