Friday, January 7, 2011

Leadership Roundup

Quickly, the PC leadership race in Newfoundland and Labradour looks like it will be won by Kathy Dunderdale, who was elected as the interim leader.   My hope had been that Steve Kent would run for the leadership, but he is still young enough that he could run the next time and still be young.

Liberal Leadership Race

There have been some endorsements of late.

Biggest is Bill Bennett backing George Abbott, this moves George Abbott up to 15 MLAs and everyone else 14.    George Abbott also picked up former MLAs Sheila Orr and Nick Loenen in the last couple of days.

Christy Clark picked up Pamela Martin, not someone re-known for her involvement in politics.   There were interesting rumours in the 1980s about Pamela Martin and BC politics.   Since she left as anchor of the BCTV news in 2001, she has been much less visible in BC than she was from 1977 to 2001 when she anchored that newscast.

When it comes to campaign effort, I have been contacted by the de Jong, Abbott, Clark and Falcon campaigns.   With de Jong and Falcon it was a live person, with the other two it was with robo calls.  It seems to me that all four are working the existing membership.

Within the media there are only three candidates considered as relevant to the race, George Abbott, Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon.   Mike de Jong has been already written off as an also ran.   I think this is an error as the race is all about who can sign up the most new members to the parties and who can do it in the ridings where it will count for the most.

I can not measure how well any of the campaigns are doing with sign ups but given that the BC Liberals currently have 35,000 members and a good campaign should be able to sign up 20,000 members, the existing membership is almost irrelevant if the party gains between 30,000 and 60,000 members.  If you think these numbers are unreasonable, keep in mind that it is normal for candidates running for a Liberal nomination in a riding that they should be able to win typically signs up over 1000 members in that process.

The existing membership is also not likely to be evenly spread out around the province.  There were a number of contested nomination races in the lead up to the 2009 election, I would expect those ridings to have more than 1000 members each.  If one says the top ten ridings average 1200 members each, this means 12,000 of the 35,000 members are in the top ten leaving 23,000 for the rest.   On the other end of the spectrum their are ridings like Victoria Swan Lake or Esquimalt Royal Roads - effectively moribund.  If the bottom 10 average 100 members each, this is only 1000 members.

The ten highest membership and ten lowest membership ridings have the same weight in the leadership race, but the value of a vote in the smallest ten is worth 12 times the vote in a large riding.  Existing members in ridings that have not had a contested nomination may have a lot of people that are not very motivated to vote in the race.   I would assume that only about 1/2 of the existing membership will vote in the leadership race

A well focused campaign on the smallest 25 ridings could bring the candidate that does it 20-25% of the total votes in the race.   5000 new members in the smallest membership ridings should be enough to place as high as second in the race.    What we need to find out who is out there signing up members and doing so well.

George Abbott happens to have the endorsement of five of the new MLAs that went through contested nominations in the run up to 2009.   This means he should win these ridings with large margins, there is little danger of anyone signing up enough members to threaten him in these ridings.   He has another 11 ridings he can 'count' on because of MLA endorsement but if the existing membership is small enough he may only win a plurality or even come second.

Kevin Falcon has the second most MLAs backing him which I suspect means he should do well with existing members but come second by a bit behind Abbott.

The only hope that Christy Clark and Mike de Jong have is focusing on a large scale membership drive.   For either one to finish well I suspect they need to sign up more than 10,000 members.   Do either one of them have the network to do this?

There are a couple of well organized political networks in BC.  The old Reform Party grassroots - not one I see coming on board in this race.   Certain elements of the business community, ones like the ICBA, are able to mobilize people - I do not see much evidence of them in action in the race.   Finally there is the Indo-Canadian community, one that has shown itself very politically active in the past and helped propel people into office.  I do not see evidence they are active in this race, but then I have no contacts to this network any longer.

Kevin Falcon has the support of MLA Dave Hayer and George Abbott has the support of Kash Heed, but I am not certain either one of them can pull off a mass sign up campaign.   Kevin Falcon may be able to bring in the Grewals, but not in an official capacity as the Federal Conservatives have made it clear their people are to steer clear of the Liberal leadership race.

Christy Clark may be able to benefit from this community if she can get someone like Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal to come on board. I am assuming the Federal Liberal MP Ujjah Dosanjh is not going to come anyone's help in this campaign.   Up to just over seven years ago, the go to guy in the Liberal world would have been my former landlord Dave Basi.   One person I could see coming out to organize for Christy Clark would be former MLA Karn Manhas.

Mike de Jong has had some long term connections to the Indo-Canadian community that might be of the right type to connect into a political machine, if he can make use of them he may surprise everyone on February 26th and finish much stronger.   Looking through Mike de Jong's website, over and over again there seems to be a much stronger Indo-Canadian presence among his campaign than elsewhere.  He also has former MLA Patty Sahota at his side - I am a fan of Patty and not the only one, though this site borders on creepy.

NDP Leadership Race

There are only a few days left for people to sign up to become a member of the party and vote in the race.   The NDP is not using a weighted voting system and therefore anyone that has been signing up mass members in a single location could do very well in the race.  The one person one vote model is not a good one as it allows for mass sign ups, the only upside is that the NDP requires people to have been a member for 90 days to be allowed to vote.

Yesterday saw MLA Harry Lali enter the race in a splashy way that only lowered his credibility in the eyes of the media and almost all political pundits.  The only thing I see working in Harry Lali's favour is his ability to connect with the Indo-Canadian community and get a lot of sign ups.

The NDP now has three candidates in the race, Dana Larsen, MLA Nicholas Simons, and MLA Harry Lali.   The crazy thing about the three in the race is that Dana Larsen in the person best organized.   Nicholas Simons announces via a Youtube video, Harry Lali has a Merritt press conference but no website or sense if there is anyone backing him at all.

The NDP needs to have have all three of Adrian Dix, John Horgan and Mike Farnworth to get into the race.   The longer they are out, the more media coverage there is of candidates that are not serious.   In the Liberal campaign Moira Stillwell only got coverage when she was the only candidate, the same is happening in the NDP race.   The NDP is losing credibility the longer the big names stay out.  

It is also important that all three run and there is a serious race for the job.   In 1995 Glen Clark's campaign scared off all the serious candidates, the Dosanjh campaign tried to the same in 2000 and came close.   The NDP would benefit from a spirited race by the three major candidates, assuming they do not get nasty with each other.  If I were the three major candidates, I would sit down privately and agree to some conduct between each other for the race and pledge solidarity after the vote.  

It concerns me that there are no serious female names being suggested for the NDP leadership, part of the problem is that there are really no women within the NDP at the moment that have any real personal power base like Joy MacPhail had in the 1990s.   The NDP would really have benefited from her becoming leader in 2000 or after the 2001 election.

Looking at the municipal level, I am trying to see if there are women out there that could become leader of the party.  Sue Halsey Brandt in Richmond?  She has 26 years elected experience.   Alice Maitland from Hazelton?   I am really at a loss here.

Conservative Leadership Race
Sounds like they will be choosing their new leader on May 28th, about six weeks after the NDP leadership vote.   I do not know the rules and I have not heard of any candidates for the post.
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