The yet to be named Tory race to replace Tory
There's more sniffing going on in this Tory leadership race than at an Andre Boisclair house party, with everyone and their wife sniffing around to gauge the lay of the land. I'll admit that my understanding of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party is minimal - I know Mike Harris used to be Premier, that Ernie Eves delivered his budget in an auto plant a few years ago, and that John Tory doesn't have a seat...that's about it. So don't expect a lot of insightful coverage of the race from this blog. With that in mind, here's my un-insightful look at the field so far.
Diane Finley: For those of you unfamiliar with her (I'm looking at you, everyone), she's married to Harper strategist Doug Finlay, and wears sunglasses [UPDATE: used to!] in the House of Commons. Finley has been relatively untouched by scandal and charges of incompetence, making her one of Stephen Harper's better ministers.
Peter Van Loan: Based on my limited knowledge of the field, PVL would be my early pick as their "best choice". He'd bring the fire, has experienced, and scores fairly low on the "scary scale". Seeing him go head to head with "the small man of confederation" would be a lot of fun too.
Tim Hudak: Tim is the frontrunner in this race, which means that he pretty much has it in the bag, right? All I really know about the man is that Mike Harris has endorsed him, and he ran the "Great Dominion Dust Up" bracketed poll on his blog to find Canada's most inspiring politician (sound familiar?) a few years back, that Louis Riel won. Go figure. While no one will mistake Hudak for Canada's most inspiring politician, the real question is whether he's the most inspiring of this bunch, or not.
Tony Clement: Hasn't lost a leadership race recently, so you just know he's itching to once again experience the thrill of defeat.
Christine Elliott: Seems like a solid candidate, although controlling Jim "last place to invest" Flaherty could be a tougher challenge than Hillary had of muzzling Bill.
Randy Hillier: Would be an entertaining addition to the race, in the same way Craig Chandler was an entertaining addition to the 2003 PC leadership race.
Julian Fantino: Currently, Ontario's Provincial Police Commissioner so he'd have to find a seat if he won the leadership. But, hey, how hard could that be?
UPDATE: The Globe lets some PC strategists weigh in on "life after Tory". For the record, I agree with Jaime Watt that running the Harris playbook again would be a big mistake for them. The Tories need to position themselves as a centrist party and then just pound McGuinty into the ground on the economy. The federal Conservatives won Ontario last election, so it shouldn't be too hard for them to figure out where to target their resources and who will be a part of their winning coalition.