With news Penny Collenette won't be running in Ottawa Centre, (which I will be frank, took me by suprise), one of the newest games around the OC in Liberal circles is guessing who the Liberal standard bearer will be. Here are some potential names, in no particular order:
The former Mayor of Ottawa, and the current MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Rumours of Watson running for either the Ottawa Centre nomination or trying to get his old job of Mayor back have been circulating for some time now. If he ran, he would be a formidable Liberal candidate, someone who could match NDP incumbant Paul Dewar in name recognition and local popularity (Watson, as the Mayor of pre-amalgamated Ottawa, won 83% of the vote, albeit over a decade again) and might be the Liberals best shot of knocking of Dewar and the NDP.
Fate was not kind to Mahoney. Longtime Liberal activst and organizer (serving as President of the Young Liberals, President of the Ontario Liberal Party, and was Paul Martin's long-time executive assistant), Mahoney was supposed to be easily elected to the House in a 2003 by-election after Mac Harb was appointed to the Senate, but his road hit some major bumps in the form of the sponsorship scandal, and a titan of an NDP candidate, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent. Broadbent took the riding for the NDP in the 2004 election, but only served a single term, leaving before the 2006 election to spend more time with his ailing wife. Mahoney was expected to be able to gain the seat back for the Liberals, but a dip in Liberal numbers, a local scandal involving Mahoney's work as a lobbyist, and a surprisingly strong campaign from Paul Dewar, held the seat for the NDP. Mahoney considered running for the Ottawa Centre nomination again, but withdrew from the contest and decided to try his luck in Pontiac, but was defeated for the nomination. According to the Hill Times, Mahoney is considering running again in Pontiac, but perhaps a vacancy in Ottawa Centre could lure him back across the Ottawa River.
The long-time MPP for Ottawa Centre, Patten left in a huff in 2007, claiming Dalton McGuinty was ignoring Ottawa, but many within the party said Patten was simply bitter at being passed over for cabinet. He has name recognition and knows the riding well, but could his parting shots hurt a potential run?
A community activist, Bell executive, organizer for Gerard Kennedy's leadership bid, and defeated nomination candidate (full disclosure, I supported him over Penny). Bradley doesn't have huge name recognition but is a hard campaigner, is passionate about local issues, and definitely has more than a few followers in the Ottawa Centre Liberal crowd. Previously, I had heard he was non-committal about running for the nomination again, particularly when Penny looked like she would have it in the bag, but it's a whole new ball game now.
City councillor for Gloucester-Southgate Ward, Deans has twice been an unsuccessful Liberal candidate for nomination, falling to David McGuinty in Ottawa South for the federal nod in 2004 (to nobody's shock) and Yasir Naqvi in Ottawa Centre provincially in 2007 (to many people's shock). Could third time be the charm for Deans?
Any other possible names people have heard?