We have two MLAs that were elected in 2009 for a party that now are seeking to be elected as independents. One is Bob Simpson the other is John Van Dongen. What are the odds of them winning again? The history of politicians that get elected for a party and then run as independents succeeding is not very good. The last MLA to win re-election as an independent was James Mowat in 1949.
Federally over the last six elections there have been 11 sitting MPs that ran as independents, only three of them managed to win re-election. The history in BC is even worse. Of the eight MLAs that have run for re-election as independents, none of them have been re-elected and none of them have done very well. Five were originally elected as BC Liberals, two as New Democrats and one as Social Credit.
- Jack Kempf - third place with 25.79% of the vote in Bulkley Valley Stikine. Even though he came third, his result is the closest finish for any sitting MLA running as an independent. The NDP candidate Jackie Pement won with 33.97% narrowly beating the BC Liberal candidate Alice Maitland by 265 votes.
- Chris D'Acry - second place with 23.58% in Rossland Trail. He had been the NDP MLA for the riding since 1972 but did not get the party nomination for the 1991 election. The winning New Democrat managed to get more twice the support he did.
- Alan Warnke - fifth place with 2.64% in Richmond Steveston. He was first elected in 1991 as a BC Liberal very much "by accident". He only became in independent on April 28th 1996 which was only two days before the election was called. If I remember correctly, he lost the nomination for the BC Liberals. He marks the low point of any sitting MLA running as an independent.
- Bob Chisholm - 3rd place with 23.44% in Chilliwack. He was elected in 1991 as a Liberal. He sat as an independent as of April 11th 1995 and I am not remembering the reason why at the moment. The winning BC Liberal, Barry Penner, only managed to get 37.90% of the vote.
- Rick Kasper - 2nd place with 22.56% in Malahat Juan de Fuca. Became an independent as of October 10th 2000. He did manage to finish second, but the winner, BC Liberal Brian Kerr, managed to get 42.26% of the vote.
- Bonnie McKinnon - 4th place with 7.74% in Surrey Cloverdale. She was first elected in 1996 and only became an independent as of March 5th 2001. She finished behind the Greens and the NDP.
- Jeremy Dalton - 3rd place with 6.33% of the vote in West Vancouver Capilano. He was elected in 1991 and 1996 as a Liberal. He was an independent from April 5th 2000 to July 10th 2000 and then again from January 11th 2001.
- Paul Nettleton - 3rd place with 15.06% of the vote in Prince George Mount Robson. I am not sure why, but he chose to run against sitting BC Liberal MLA Shirley Bond. He has been elected in Prince George Omineca as a Liberal in 1996 and 2001.
The electoral math does not work well for him. He has done about as one expect a BC Liberal to have done in the past four elections but no better.
The NDP should reasonably expect to get 30-35% of the vote. The BC Conservatives will run a candidate and should take 5-10% of the vote. Another 5% is likely to go to the Greens. This leaves at best 50% to 60% of the vote to split between John Van Dongen and BC Liberal candidate Daryl Plecas. If the two of them evenly split the NDP wins. For John Van Dongen to win he has to take at least 35% of the vote and without a full scale campaign I am not convinced that he is likely to get anywhere close to that.
My current estimate is that John Van Dongen is likely to finish third and get 20% of the vote and make the riding a very close race between the NDP and the BC Liberals.
Bob Simpson was first elected as a New Democract in 2005 by a very narrow margin but then won with a reasonable margin in 2009. He was removed from the NDP caucus on October 7th 2010 and has sat as an independent since.
Bob Simpson has chosen to fully embrace being an independent and did not seek a return to the BC NDP. He has made a significant impact as an independent and has a network of supporters. He has formed his own local association and has been raising money for his re-election. He has been thinking about his re-election process and seems like he will have a strong campaign.
The BC Liberal candidate in Cariboo North, Coralee Oakes, is not a political heavyweight. The Greens are not running a candidate against him. The NDP do not seem to have any strong candidates seeking to run there.
I think that Bob Simpson will be the first BC MLA to be re-elected as independent since James Mowat was re-elected as an independent 1949. James Mowat won as an independent after winning in 1941 as a Liberal and then as a Liberal member of the Coalition in 1945. Mowat had lost the nomination for the 1949 election but as soon as he was elected he rejoined the government.