With Rod Vanier dropping out, Bob Chiarelli was the only candidate to put his name forward for the OW-N nomination cut off yesterday. Chiarelli will be formally nominated at a rally at Algonquin College this Sunday. Jim Watson, the current MPP, is expected to resign formally to focus on his campaign for Ottawa mayor sometime before the sitting of the Ontario legislature, which returns on February 16th. Given McGuinty's habit of calling quick by-elections, I think we can expect a voting date of mid-late March by my count, Chiarelli will almost certainly have the highest name recognition in the race, having previously served as Ottawa West MPP and Mayor of Ottawa. He is likely to face 2007 PC candidate Mike Patton, a former spokesperson for Larry O'Brien and assisstant to Jean Charest during his PC leadership days. Patton scored 31.7% of the vote in 2007, to Watson's 50.6.
The riding has a reputation for being a swing riding federally, being won by the party which formed government having been won by the party which formed government all but 2 times since 1963 (if we include the old but geographically similar Ottawa West riding) but has leaned Liberal more provincially, with the Liberals holding it since 1987 when Chiarelli was first elected, minus Alex Cullen crossing the floor to the NDP and the PC's winning the riding on a split vote in 1999.