The Conservative nomination vote last Saturday an was interesting exercise and a few lessons on political reality were handed out.
Todd Dorherty waged a carefully crafted campaign. He didn’t toss his hat into the ring until Dick Harris had publicly announced he was not going to seek the nomination. It was a small courtesy, but an important one, as it removes confrontation. Getting the public support of the incumbent MP, Dick Harris enhanced his chances of success. Harris has a large group of supporters who have remained loyal to him over a couple of decades. A good many of them would be inclined to support his recommendation as to a successor. Dorherty ran a well-prepared campaign that reached out to members and aroused their interest in the nomination race.
The Shari Green campaign failed for a number of reasons. The mini-coup in taking over the constituency executive was not the best move. It lit the fire of resentment, which smoldered throughout the pre-vote period. One of the prominent comments from Green and supporters was to present her as a necessary alternative to Harris. The clear implication was that Harris had not served the constituency well. They seemed to forget that Harris had retained his seat through several elections. That should have told them there was a fairly solid amount of support for him. He was not a good target.
All of us, Conservative or not, owe all three thanks for participating in the democratic process. It is not easy to participate and subject yourself to public scrutiny. To engage in the process requires a good deal of personal courage.
With the departure of Dick Harris, other parties will be giving considerable thought and energy to fielding a candidate from their party who is highly creditable.
While the riding has been considered a safe Conservative seat in the past, the support may decline. Much of the support for Harris was personal and as in all things there is a tendency to support the individual rather than the party. It will be interesting to see how much of the Harris support remains with Doherty.
Much of what the future holds for the riding will depend on a number of factors not the least of which will be the Harper factor. In politics, even more so than life, friends come and go and enemies accumulate. The Harper government has had a fairly long run and there are always those who look for change simply for the sake of change.
The federal Liberals passionately want to rise from the ashes of their battered party in parliament. There is a good chance they will have a greater number of seats in the house following the next election. If they are unable to form a government, then they would dearly love to be the Official Opposition.
The NDP will have a difficult time hanging on to some of the seats they now have. They benefitted in the last election from a Liberal party in tatters and the demise of the Bloc. There will likely be a number of former supporters who will return to the Liberal fold.
Doherty correctly realizes that his election is not a given. It could be a vigorous election campaign.