Thursday, September 12, 2013

First candidate comes forward to replace John Cummins as BC Conservative Leader

Dan Brooks, the BC Conservative candidate in Nechako Lakes in this year's provincial election, announced today he is in the running to be the next leader of the party.

News had been floating around since the mid summer than he intended to run for the leadership so this is not a surprise announcement.  What I do find odd is his decision to announce in Kamloops.   I asked him and he answered:  "Kamloops is closer to the strength of the party in the interior. There is good media there, and close enough to travel to Vancouver when occasion demands."  He has actually moved to Kamloops for the leadership campaign from Vanderhoof

A very empty room for Dan Brooks announcement
He made the announcement today in front of a small crowd.  Based on what I saw on CFJC there were only six Conservatives and a media at the announcement.  His website is not yet live, which I do not quite understand since that is the easiest way for the media to get the information about the candidate.

John Cummins as a long term moderately well known MP should have been the ticket to the BC Conservatives moving into the political mainstream in this province but his leadership of the party was less than stellar.  This time around the party does not seem like it is going to attract anyone of that stature to run for the leadership.   If the BC Conservatives are to do better in 2017 they need a leader that can get the party organized on the ground, someone that can get thousands of people to join the party.   I am not sure that Dan Brooks is that person.

So far the field officially only has Dan Brooks though there are rumours are out there that Rick Peterson will run as well.  Tom Birch, the BC Conservative candidate in Shuswap, had said he would run but is now running to be president of the party instead. The entry fee is $20,000, which I think is surprisingly high for this party at this time, still, with three or four candidates, that is a significant windfall for the party.   From looking at the provincial election finances, it would seem that Dan Brooks can afford the entry fee.

Dan Brooks spent $44,935.37 on his campaign in Nechako Lakes but only raised $12,560.25 of which only  $9,026 was in money.   Of that money, $5,000 was from one individual, Brian Fehr - interestingly in 2013 Fehr also donated $65,000 to the NDP in via his company Nechako Construction, $10,000 personally to the BC Conservatives and a further $2,000 to BC Conservative candidate Earl Olsen in Columbia River Revelstoke.   Streamline Signs of Vanderhoof donated $3,534.25 in services and goods to Dan Brooks.    Dan Brooks covered another $4,157.18 in candidate expenses which is above and beyond his campaign spending.   He also spent $3,196.96 in non-election expenses.   The campaign still had $1,511.02 in the bank as of August 12th.

Dan Brooks was also his own financial agent.  I also can not see many names of people on his 2013 campaign website.

What all this says to me is that Dan Brooks had a very small campaign team and bankrolled most of it himself, something on the order of $37,000.

For comparison:
Candidate                Party $ Raised  $ Spent
Colin Hamm               Green   $1,599   $1,599
Sussanne Skidmore-Hewlett  NDP  $53,152  $56,263
John Rustad            Liberal  $74,839  $72,983

Given that he spend similar amounts to the NDP I would have expected his results to be better than they were.  Yes, at 12.66% of the vote he had one of the better BC Conservative results in the election but he also spent more than almost all the others.   Once again, this says to me that he did not have much of a campaign team.

His media releases today had no names of anyone working on his team - at a minimum I would have expected there to be some mention of who the campaign manager was and who the media contact person was.  When I asked him via email he said his campaign manager is Barry Sikora who was the BC Conservative candidate in Surrey Tynehead.  Barry Sikora raised over $48,000 of which $21,826 was in cash and the rest was in kind donations from Classic Impressions which is owned by Barry Sikora.

He also added the following about his campaign manager "I'm going to be organizing more volunteers and plan to extend the role as it grows too much for Barry."  which does not strike me as a core role of the candidate.  

There is no mention of any endorsements either, though Dan Brooks says they will be coming.  He also says social media would be coming.   

Based on what I have seen so far, Dan Brooks is a nice well meaning guy that is not ready to lead a political party.

Here is the text of his announcement today:

Dan Brooks announces candidacy for
Leader of the BC Conservatives
Campaign will emphasize issues in Interior, North and Rural B.C.

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - SEPT. 12, 2013 - Dan Brooks today announced his candidacy to become the new Leader of the BC Conservative Party.

"I am proud to declare that I am seeking to win election as the Leader of the BC Conservatives," said Brooks.

"I was born in B.C.'s North, I am raising my family in rural British Columbia, and I make my living off our bountiful natural resources. For too long, however, the people living in our province's Interior, North and Rural regions have been neglected, ignored by the decision-makers in Victoria.

"My campaign will focus on developing and being a strong voice for those British Columbians who believe that their interests are not being heard or represented in the corridors of power."

Brooks was born in Vanderhoof, B.C. and he later graduated from the University of Waterloo with a B.A. in Classical (Greek and Roman) Studies.

He returned to the North and in 1995 to operate a family business, Crystal Lake Resort Ltd., located north of the Chilcotin region and south of the Nechako River.

In the May 2013 provincial general election, Brooks was the BC Conservative candidate in the riding of Nechako Lakes. He obtained 12.6 per cent of the popular vote, ranking him fifth out of 56 Conservative candidates who contested the election.

Brooks also announced that his campaign office will be located in Kamloops.

"I believe BC Conservative members living in the Interior, North and Rural parts of the province will decide the next Leader of our party," said Brooks. "And Kamloops is ideally situated as a centralized location from which to run my leadership campaign."


Dan Brooks
BC Conservative Leadership Candidate
Office: 250-434-2550

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