Monday, September 12, 2011

On Topp

I find the media generally tends to assign too much importance to endorsements during leadership races. After all, Christy Clark came out on top in BC earlier this year with a lone MLA backing her.

But some endorsements do mater. And since Olivia Chow has said she will stay neutral in the race, this is as big as it gets:

Broadbent backs Brian Topp to replace Layton as NDP leader

OTTAWA Brian Topp burst out of the blocks in the NDP leadership race Monday, taking an early head start powered by some muscular endorsements.

The Montreal-born party president became the first official candidate in the race to succeed the late Jack Layton, who died of cancer last month.

He was accompanied by party icon Ed Broadbent, the most popular and successful federal NDP leader — until Layton.

Without fail, the quickest way to get intoxicated during a federal election is to play the "Ed Broadbent" drinking game at an NDP rally. Broadbent is adored within the NDP and his endorsement is widely considered to have been the tipping point that pushed Jack over the top in 1993.

So this was a big score for Topp who, despite never holding elected office, is now considered the frontrunner in the Race for Stornoway. That said...a little perspective people! From Stephen Maher:

With Broadbent behind him and deep roots in his party, Topp now looks to be in the same situation as Paul Martin in 2003.

Thomas Mulcair, the most likely effective challenger, must have been very disappointed to see Broadbent today. He may not want to play the role of Copps in this race.

There's a long list of frontrunners in leadership contests who found out 6 months is a long time the hard way. Topp will be building an organization from scratch. He lacks both experience and charisma. He's also spilled a lot of ink over the past decade as a pundit, so I imagine there are at least one or two controversial comments he'll need to climb down from.

Broadbent's endorsement makes him the frontrunner. But being the frontrunner doesn't mean much.

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