Monday, March 30, 2009

Race to the Right 2009

Nothing is quite as satisfying politically as watching your opponents go through a leadership fight. The Ontario PC's are now engaged in a leadership contest. A quick run through of the candidates declared and otherwise.

Tim Hudak, MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook: One of the youngest members of the Common Sense Revolution, Hudak has legislative experience having been elected in 1995. He also has cabinet experience though not exactly in high profile ministries. Most importantly, Hudak is reported to have the support of former Premier Mike Harris and other high ranking Tories. Expect CSR part 2 from Hudak. He has not officially declared but it would be a shocker if he doesn't soon. Assuming he's in, his challenge will be attracting enough second ballot support to avoid being yet another losing frontrunner See: Tabuns, Peter (2009); Clinton, Hillary (2008), Ignatieff, Michael (2006); Kennedy, Gerard (1996) etc.

Christine Elliot, MPP for Whitby-Oshawa: Elliot is a bit of a tabula rasa politically. She is most often defined by her marriage to Jim Flaherty. Elliot may not be as radical as her husband (she supports gay marriage, for instance) but certainly wouldn't be viewed as a voice of the progressive wing of the PC's. The optics may be wrong for Elliot. How does an Ontario premier complain about the fiscal straight-jacket being imposed on the province by Ottawa when her husband is the federal finance minister? Ms. Elliot should be judged on her merits, the question is whether that is possible. There is no guarantee Elliot runs. I'd put the odds at around 60% she runs.

Frank Klees, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora: Yes, the other guy from the 2004 leadership race is back. Klees should not be discounted entirely. He won 22% of the vote last time around and has arguably the longest resume in the race. Long resumes, however, are not guarantees of success in politics just ask Bill Richardson. He has the backing of the politically active Rev. Charles McVety so that may be a hint as to where his support base is. Klees has declared his candidacy.

Randy Hillier, MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington: Because no leadership race is interesting without the radical quirky candidate, we have Randy Hillier. Yes, the man who once sent a dead animal to a provincial cabinet minister and has been arrested for his radical farmers' protests is running to be premier. Mr. Hillier undoubtedly has a constituency. However, the PC's rules don't favour a rural based candidate. There simply aren't enough rural ridings for Mr. Hillier to be successful in a weighted one-member-one-vote system. Mr. Hillier has also officially declared his candidacy.

Masood Kahn: Even if Mr. Kahn was a serious candidate for this job, he'd be doomed by circumstance. The Tories are not going to elect anyone who does not currently have a seat in the legislature. However, he is in the race, so I guess this might be a Martha Hall-Findlay like attempt to raise his profile. In which case, all the power to him. He's in, so we should learn a bit more about him in the coming weeks. Then again maybe not... anyone got a bio on Gilles Bisson?

1 comment:

Miles Lunn said...

I would say Tim Hudak is without question the front-runner. The problem he faces is he still too closely connected to the CSR and alot of Ontarioans still have bad memories here. He is young enough that if he waited a bit longer, his chances might be better as by 2015, a large chunk of the population will have forgotten about the CSR.

Christine Elliot is probably more moderate than her husband and being married doesn't mean they have the same views. My parents have sometimes voted for different parties so being married doesn't mean she has the same views. Still, as long as Jim Flaherty is the federal finance minister, this cannot be good for her.

Randy Hillier is a nutcase and although he might be popular in Rural Ontario, the party needs to win in suburban Ontario if they wish to win the election, and he is exactly the type of candidate that ensures the 905 belt goes solidly Liberal.

Frank Klees is more likely to be a kingmaker and I agree his electability is probably not great. In fact all of them face an uphill battle in 2011 although I think Tim Hudak would probably have the best showing of those involved, although I doubt he would win, but he at least could probably increase the Tory seat count.

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