Sandra Pupatello leaving politics 'for sure'

Former Windsor West MPP Sandra Pupatello, who finished second in the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race on the weekend, said she is heading back to the private sector.

Liberal leadership candidate thought she had Eric Hoskins' support, but did not

Sandra Pupatello thought going into the Ontario Liberal Party leadership convention that she was going to win. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Sandra Pupatello's return to politics was short-lived.

The former Windsor West MPP who finished second in the Ontario Liberal Party leadership race on the weekend said she is heading back to the private sector.

"Oh, for sure," she said, when asked directly if she was heading back to the private sector. "I have to work."

Pupatello left her job at PricewaterhouseCoopers to make a run for the Liberal leadership. She lost to Kathleen Wynne in dramatic fashion on the weekend.

Pupatello left politics in 2011, only to return last fall when she declared her intent to run for the Ontario Liberal leadership.

During her victory speech, Wynne told Pupatello, "I'm going to need you. I'm going to need you to work with me."

That doesn't seem likely.

Surprise shift of delegate support

Pupatello acknowledged reports of an in-home visit with Eric Hoskins, who she said promised her his support. Instead, Hoskins and his delegates on Saturday chose to support Wynne at the last minute.

"He did tell me he would support me.He told me he would. He told me in his own home with his wife," Pupatello said. "He changed his mind. I don’t know when. Who knows what happened on the floor?"

'Who knows what happened on the floor?'— Sandra Pupatello

Pupatello said the Hoskins' move came after his group was visited by a "former premier" — believed to be David Peterson, whose sister-in-law is Health Minister Deb Matthews.

Matthews backed Wynne from the beginning of the leadership race.

Pupatello denied she redirected $20,000 toward the Hoskins campaign, however.

"There was no redirection [of money]," she said flatly when asked. "This drama going on is nonsense. Let’s get on with it. [Wynne's] great."

'I felt I was going to win'

Pupatello was confident going into the leadership convention in Toronto.

"I felt going in that I was going to win this thing. I had this thing to win," she said.

But Pupatello didn't overanalyze why she lost.

"People told me they would support me and they changed their mind. I framed my priority as she did hers. People pick, and they did," she said. "She got more [delegate votes] than I did. It’s that simple."

Pupatello said the delegate system "is antiquated," but said it's the system all candidates had to work with.

Pupatello knew the final result backstage, before it was announced to the convention.

"There was quite a feeling of calm that came over me probably because I knew I gave it my all. There isn’t one thing I could have done more," she said. "People choose and you accept their choice."