Charles Sousa turns up to vote at a polling station in his Mississauga South riding. After a poor showing in yesterday's voting, Sousa is pinning his hopes for victory on the Grits' complex system for selecting their leaders.

Charles Sousa turns up to vote at a polling station in his Mississauga South riding. After a poor showing in yesterday's voting, Sousa is pinning his hopes for victory on the Grits' complex system for selecting their leaders.

Mississauga's contenders for the Ontario Liberal leadership remain optimistic, despite trailing the race leaders by a large margin in delegate selection voting yesterday.

Campaign staffers for Mississauga-Erindale MPP Harinder Takhar and Mississauga South MPP Charles Sousa issued upbeat messages Sunday morning, with Sousa's team saying their man is in it to win.

Of the six candidates, Takhar was in fourth place with 13 per cent of the vote while Sousa came in fifth with 10 per cent.

Both were well behind race leaders Sandra Pupatello, who polled 28 per cent, and Kathleen Wynne, who took 26 per cent.

Despite their candidate's lacklustre showing on the first of two days of voting this weekend, Sousa's team remain convinced he can land the leadership.

Campaign spokesperson Lise Jolicoeur said that the race was still wide open as neither of the race leaders had established a dominant lead.

"We're in this to win," said Jolicoeur, rejecting speculation on Twitter that Sousa would throw in the towel.

The Sousa campaign is pinning its hopes on the complex system the Grits use to select their leader. Party members are voting this weekend for delegates to send to a special convention in Toronto on Jan. 25 where the new leader will be chosen. Unless one candidate goes into the convention with a commanding lead, several rounds of voting take place with the bottom candidate dropping out at each stage until a winner emerges.

Sousa is hoping he can pick up enough second-choice votes as other candidates drop out to propel him to the leadership.

"We've always known we weren't one of the front runners," said Jolicoeur. "So second-choice support is key coming out of this weekend."

Meanwhile the Takhar campaign said his message was striking a chord with party members.

"Harinder's message of fiscal prudence, support for Ontario's small businesses, and protecting our most vulnerable has resonated with Ontario Liberals," Spokesperson Jenna Mannone said in an email.

"We are looking forward to continuing to share this message with all delegates and the people of Ontario as we approach the convention."

In yesterday's results, Gerrard Kennedy squeaked into third place with 14 per cent, just ahead of Takhar, while Eric Hoskins came in sixth on 6 per cent.

Voting continues today in ridings that did not select delegates yesterday.

dpaterson@mississauga.net