Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Winners and losers in the LPC leadership race - besides the obvious winner
Was in Ottawa for the leadership reveal, and I've been meaning to write a blog reflecting on the race. First off, let me thank all the volunteers and party staff who worked during the weekend and throughout the race.
While the obvious winner was Justin Trudeau, and congratulations to his team are due, I thought I'd write about who I think are the more subtle winners and losers from both the weekend and the race as a whole. Presented in no particular order.
Takach wasn't taken the most seriously at the start of the race, but his official entry into the race was professional, he garnered a surprising amount of Young Liberal support which gave him decent online buzz, and he positioned himself well to own the "digitial economy" file - not a bad niche to have for a party looking for ways to be economically innovative. That he dropped out to support Trudeau helps him in this category of course. For an outsider candidate like Takach, the best realistic outcome was to raise his profile and make friends with the new establishment, and it seems like he executed it well. If he wants to run for a nomination in the next election, he'll have a good pick of seats, particularly his home riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore
-Supporters of supporters
The supporter class wasn't without its share of controversy, and you can argue about the value of it, how to calculate the turnout, etc, but the fact is with the supporter category over 100k Canadians voted in this leadership race. It would have been interesting to see how the supporter class would have worked in a more competitive race with more candidates able to run truly national campaigns, but those who supported the creation of the class and allowing them to vote can be satisfied - for now. The next test is keeping those supporters engaged and getting them involved on the local level.
If a candidate who got under 1% of the vote can be considered a winner, Deb Coyne can. She never caught fire, but she had a deep policy binder, performed decently in the debates, and was able to defend her ideas
well. She never thought she could win, but for someone who entered the race to advance certain ideas to keep them part of the discussion, she did well. I hope she goes after a federal nomination in the next election.
Hardly needs to be said, but his barn burner of a speech at the leadership reveal demonstrated why he's the most beloved living Liberal leader.
-Supporters of co-operation
I don't support co-operation, and seemingly neither did many Liberals, with Joyce Murray and her co-operation platform finishing a distant second (which was expected) but underperformed some expectations for vote %. I talked to a couple of friends who were supporting Joyce, and who complained that the third-party groups like LeadNow and the various strategic voting schemes who threw lots in with Joyce failed to deliver. I don't think Joyce was the best salesperson for the co-operation pitch compared the Nathan Cullen in the NDP race, who genuinely surprised a lot of people with his likability and charisma. His unexpectedly strong performance gave a shot in the arm to the co-operation idea after post-2011 federal election analysis brought doubt onto the idea of strategic voting schemes, but with NDP leader Mulcair ruling it out and the co-operation candidate in the Liberal race failing to make as big as an impact, hard to say the idea has momentum.
-Martha Hall Findlay
I didn't think her awkward attack on Trudeu during the GTA debate deserved all the fire and brimstone that the media rained down on her, but it did demonstrate her inability to position herself well as an alternative candidate. She tried position herself as the centre-right candidate and rally Western support, but finished behind the left-wing Murray in every Prarie province, and I don't think she got more than 20% in any riding except for Willowdale, where she still finished a distant second to Trudeau. That she started making noises about running again while she still had 2006 debt also hurt her image. She wants to run again and I think she's a good voice to have in the party, but I don't think she gained anything in particular from getting 5.5% in this race.
Bertschi may have been looking to raise his profile, but unlike the other outsider candidates, failed to do so in any positive way. His campaign was dogged by staff turnover, negative news stories about loaning himself money and other issues. Unlike some of the other outsider candidates, he was never able to even establish a niche for himself on policy issues (like Takach on digital issues, McCrimmon on veterans affairs, Coyne having a generally deep policy background, etc) to develop any sort of constituency. He dropped out without endorsing anyone, which won't earn him any other new friends if he takes another crack at Ottawa-Orleans.
Considering the whole point of the exercise was in theory to replace Ignatieff as permanent leader, it left a bad taste in a few people's mouths that Ignatieff didn't make an appearance at the leadership reveal, if only to say a few words.