Canberra Liberals leader Jeremy Hanson has vowed to continue fighting a re-elected Labor and Greens coalition, promising to look after those who consider themselves left behind by politicians.
Within a few breaths of conceding defeat at the Southern Cross Club in Woden, the Opposition Leader was beer in hand, surrounded by his family and party faithful. One by one, his candidates emerged from a crowd to shake his hand.
The swing against the Canberra Liberals was a shock to many party members who were banking on protest votes from those opposed to light rail; an issue the party billed as the core of its campaign.
The crowd of about 150 was initially bright, boosted by a sense that four years of opposition may be coming to an end. But by the time Mr Hanson arrived on stage those dreams had fallen away.
"It is the case that it will be very difficult for us to form government and we have to acknowledge from here it is unlikely that we will do so," he said.
"It is likely now that it will be a continuation of a Labor and Greens coalition in Canberra. That is a disappointing thing, but tonight is not the night to dwell on that."
Mr Hanson called ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to concede soon after 9pm, moments before walking on stage to address the Liberal faithful alongside his wife Fleur.
He made reference to party founder and former prime minister Robert Menzies' "forgotten people" and gave special mention to his deputy, Alistair Coe, who he described as a personal friend.
"Asking Alistair to go Gungahlin to argue against the tram was always going to be a hard ask and he made the case exceptionally well, even though that has not been enough in terms of the result tonight," Mr Hanson said.
But not everyone in the room was impressed with the party's performance. One Liberal source said: "the Hanson experiment has phenomenally failed - we need a serious review on how we could go backwards at a time when people were ready to embrace a change of government".
While candidates were unwilling to concede defeat before Mr Hanson's, many insiders were more candid about their performance once initial votes were tallied.
Mr Hanson praised his candidates and claimed his party had led the debate on public transport, education and health despite failing to secure office.
"That is a very difficult thing to do in opposition and i commend all of our MLAs and the work they have done," he said. "Our policies are very good and we will continue to litigate those over the next four years."