By Tammy Karatchuk (@TammyKaratchuk)
WINNIPEG — Glen Murray will never forget his 65th birthday.
Jubilation turned to confusion at the Fort Gary Hotel. The ballroom erupted in cheers and tears on Wednesday night, when CTV Winnipeg declared Glen Murray the new mayor of Winnipeg. It was 8:55 p.m. a mere 45 minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m.
But less than 10 minutes later, the celebratory mood shifted as murmurs rippled through the ballroom. Polls were still reporting. Ballots were still being tallied. And Scott Gillingham was gaining ground.
With the last count, Gillingham had soared ahead and secured the mayor’s chair with 53,663. Murray garnered 49,272 — second place. But silver can be sweet.
The somber mood in the room brightened with Murray’s arrival at 9:45 p.m. His supporters sang, “Happy Birthday,” while Murray shook hands, hugging people, looking humble — not defeated as one might expect — making his way to the lectern.
“Well, for a few minutes there we knew what it felt like to win,” said Murray, making his supporters laugh. “And it was exciting. And it was exciting as we worked so hard.”
Murray spoke about his vision for Winnipeg, calling it his “home.” According to Murray, his was a diverse campaign.
“If you look across this room,” said Murray, “you couldn’t get a more culturally, socially, economically, employment-wise, geographically-wise, more diverse group of people behind one campaign.”
Murray wished Scott Gillingham all the best and said, “He has the greatest job in the world.”
When asked if he’d run again, Murray said, “Politics has changed, the rules around politics have changed. We live in a dynamic that is much more harder on the individual. You are much more vulnerable as a politician.”
Murray previously held the mayoral chair from 1998 to 2004. He stepped down in the middle of his second term to run in the 2004 federal election as a liberal in Charleswood-St. James. Murray joked with reporters, “I’ve lost twice now.”
Prior to Murray’s first run at the mayoral chair, he was councillor for Fort Rouge ward from 1989 to 1998.
After Murray’s speech, his supporters rolled out a trolley with a massive cake on top, ablaze with sparklers and candles.
“Make a wish!” someone yelled.
Murray said, “I wish that Winnipeg continues to be the most beautiful healthy amazing city in the world.”