TORONTO - Kathleen Wynne will become Ontario's 25th premier — the first woman, and married gay woman at that, to hold the post.
"Thank you, beautiful Liberals," Wynne said Saturday night to the cheering crowd in Toronto before addressing one of the question marks about her electability.
"Can we just get this Toronto thing out of the way? I am going to be the premier of the whole province."
She addressed another earlier in the day, asking during her rousing speech: "Can a gay woman win?" She answered that she's already proved she can.
Wynne secured a third-ballot victory with 1,150 votes to Sandra Pupatello's 866.
In the end, Wynne's warm hugs beat out Pupatello's sharp elbows to win the race to succeed outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty, whose legacy she vowed to build on.
She inherits a deadlocked minority government, a prorogued legislature and an $11.9-billion deficit.
Sticking to an earnest, inclusive mantra, Wynne plugged away over the course of the nine-week campaign and presented herself as a consensus builder who actually listens.
The famously combative Pupatello, meanwhile, played up her brash style, saying she was the party's best bet to fight and win an election, even vowing to "bring the opposition to their knees" in her speech.
The two were deadlocked after the first ballot, Pupatello just two votes ahead, surprising many who thought she had a bigger lead with the party establishment.
Pupatello made a gracious concession, calling Wynne a "spectacular candidate."
PC party president Richard Ciano said it's Wynne's stance — and not her sexuality — that the next election will focus on.
"The issue isn't sexual orientation at all, it's the failed policies of this government," Ciano said. "You couldn't find someone more closely tied to Dalton McGuinty and his failed policies. You couldn't find someone more responsible for the 600,000 Ontarians who are out of a job right now."
"Come Monday, I will be in my office and looking forward to a meeting with Premier Wynne," PC Leader Tim Hudak said in a statement.
"More importantly, I will be hoping to see that the premier understands what must be done on creating jobs and reducing spending, and has a clear plan to do it."
Wynne will join five other women premiers in Canada and was congratulated by both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Alison Redford.