Monday, January 30, 2012

An update on all the people not running for Liberal leadership

It's been six months since I last looked in on the field of possible Liberal leadership candidates, and that's because, well, there's not much to report. Apart from speculation surrounding the interim leader, there's been little chatter in the media, on blogs, or in Liberal circles.

However, the Liberal Biennial convention may have marked the unofficial starting gun on the leadership race, as names were floated around the convention hall and in hospitality suites. Sure, most of the likely contenders say they're not interested, but that's unlikely to quiet the rumours.

Today, a look at the ten most talked about names. Tomorrow, a look at some of the sleeper candidates.

Bob Rae

The case for Rae: Even Rae's harshest critics within the Liberal Party acknowledge he's done a bang-up job as interim leader and he's the best politician we have.

Is he a contender? If Rae runs, he'd have an impressive organization behind him. Do I think he'll be the next leader? No, not really. As Rae himself said in May, the party is likely to look to a new generation of leadership. But if you put $10 on Rae and asked me to put $10 on just one other name, I'd have a hard time thinking of someone who is more likely to be the next leader.

Why he isn't running: "I'm focusing on the job of interim leader". Plus, he made a deal with his wife.

Dominic LeBlanc

The case for LeBlanc: Young, experienced, bilingual. Deep Liberal roots, but still a fresh face for most.

Is he a contender? If I had to put a name down on that $10 bet I mentioned above, it would likely be on Dominic. He's got pieces of an organization left over from his 14 minute leadership run in 2008, and seems to be the only "high profile" candidate who has not categorically ruled out running.

Will he run? LeBlanc was bullish after the election, but has been quiet since then.

Justin Trudeau

The case for Trudeau: He's a political superstar, who has the potential to get Liberals and Canadians excited about the Liberal Party.

Is he a contender? If he runs, he will likely win.

Why he isn't running: "My kids are 2 and 4 and I barely see them enough as it is."

Dalton McGuinty

The case for Dalton: He's the most successful Liberal in Canada right now. The man has grown immensely as a politician over the past decade.

Is he a contender? Given the name recognition and organization he'd bring to the table, he'd likely be the frontrunner.

Why he isn't running: He has an ok day job right now. And he "wants to remain married".

David McGuinty

The case for David: If you can't get Dalton, he'd be the next best thing. I likely wouldn't use that slogan on a button but, like his brother, David is experienced, rarely missteps, and has grown as a politician over the years.

Is he a contender? He'd have a better chance if he'd left Ottawa more than once or twice since being elected as an MP, but he's a capable politician and the McGuinty organization should not be underestimated.

Will he run? He's "mulling" a run.

Marc Garneau

The case for Garneau: Bilingual, respected...and he was a freaking astronaut! How cool is that!

Is he a contender? If you buy into the "alternance" theory, it might be a francophone's turn. At the very least, Garneau would be treated as a "top tier" candidate by the media.

Will he run? You may have missed it if you weren't reading the political pages on December 25th, but Garneau is considering a run.

Scott Brison

The case for Brison: Like Rae, Brison is a talented politician with the gift of the gab - well spoken, with a quick wit.

Is he a contender? His campaign struggled in 2006, but Brison's pitch should find a receptive audience this time.

Why he isn't running:I don’t want to have one of Canada’s first same sex divorces

Denis Coderre

The case for Coderre: I'm really not the person who should be answering this.

Is he a contender? Coderre is one of the best organizers in the Liberal Party. I wouldn't expect him to win, but he could very easily carry Quebec.

Will he run? Coderre is considering a run for LPC leadership, Mayor of Montreal, or coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Martin Cauchon

The case for Cauchon: Has an impressive track record, is well spoken, and could be the key to winning back Quebec.

Is he a contender? Cauchon has been thinking about running for a decade, so I suspect he'd be able to put a strong team together, even outside Quebec.

Will he run? He hosted a hospitality suite at the convention. Of course, we have yet to hear publicly on the question of his candidacy from Cauchon, or his wife.

Gerard Kennedy

The case for Kennedy: I've made the case before, and I'd argue Kennedy was ahead of the game when he talked about the Liberal Party needing to rebuild itself, back in 2006.

Is he a contender? Well, the party has been moving down the "order of finish" list from 2006 (from Dion to Ignatieff to Rae...), so I guess it's his turn.

Will he run? He hasn't closed the door.

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  • Not a fan of Coderre?

    By Blogger Jordan, at 9:32 a.m.  

  • It takes a certain type of personality to have a successful run at and becoming Prime Minister. That type of personality is not content to be a back-bench nobody in a third party rump. If LeBlanc, Trudeau, Brison and the rest are willing to spend the prime years of their lives feigning outrage at the kind of patronage their party used to do, they don't have it. Resigning now to "spend more time with my family" and making big bucks in the private sector would be the first step in showing they have what it takes. Failing that, the next leader will likely be someone not in the current Liberal caucus.

    By Anonymous Nuna D. Above, at 11:55 a.m.  

  • You seem to be setting aside the seismic shift that happened at the convention: that non-paying "supporters" will be voting for the leader.

    This means that the candidate has four constituencies to court: paid-up Liberal Party members, Liberal voters who don't have memberships, Conservative voters who can be persuaded, and NDP voters who can be persuaded.

    Of those, the first group will be split among many of the candidates. The second group may or may not be energized, but will likely be split more or less along similar lines as the paid-up members.

    The third group seems to be the one that everyone is worried about, but I don't see it being particularly influential - and there is no candidate one can foresee actively courting those people.

    The fourth group - those who have voted NDP in the past but are willing to vote Liberal - are a large group, and wouldn't feel that they're betraying anything by participating in the Liberal leadership vote. And Rae has already begun actively courting them through his vocal support for NDP-friendly policies at the Convention.

    The odd thing is that once Rae wins, those who supported other candidates can be easily pushed to less prominent roles as his own supporters take control of the Liberal Party. And those supporters will be much more closely aligned with NDP policies than the current Liberal leadership.

    This race is about much more than one's personal appeal to die-hard Liberal partisans.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 p.m.  

  • Trudeau says that he's not interested in running for the leadership this time around - too bad, that. Unless the Liberals get it right with a leadership pick this time, though, there may not be a next time around.

    You're right, though, that Trudeau is a political superstar - or at least, as close to one as Canada gets. People pay attention to him. And that's not because of his accomplishments - his resume is pretty sparse, and he's never held a portfolio - but perhaps because he represents a generational shift in politics, not unlike his father did.

    If he did run, campaigned well and capitalizes on that difference, he could indeed energize Canadians. Especially younger ones.

    That sounds like exactly what the Liberals need, to ensure a 'next time around.'

    By Anonymous Arcy, at 2:37 p.m.  

  • And outside of the usual suspects: Andrew Coyne for Liberal leader! He's the only potential candidate, other than Jane Stewart, who is actually being pursued as a candidate by Liberals. He's got more supporters than Nycole Turmel and Jim Prentice!

    By Anonymous Jesse, at 3:49 p.m.  

  • Jean Marc Fournier is an interesting name that, according to Jane Taber, was brought up at the convention.

    Although he stopped speaking some months ago Dominic LeBlanc is probably the strongest in the "Anyone But Bob" camp.

    By Blogger Jordan, at 4:44 p.m.  

  • If Trudeau takes the leadership, that's the end of the Liberal Party. You'll have proven that the best the Liberals have to offer is nostalgia for past glories.

    By Blogger Brian Henry, at 6:11 p.m.  

  • Mind you, Trudeau would be much better than Coderre. Trudeau would represent the urge to simply forget the whole idea of actually running the country. Electing Coderre would represent something much uglier.

    By Blogger Brian Henry, at 6:14 p.m.  

  • Can I throw an outside the box name out there? How about Jean Charest for Federal Liberal Leader? He's certainly got the political chops, Quebec voters are definitely up for grabs, and the PCs don't exist any more. He certainly could slot in these days as a Blue Grit.

    Even crazier, and a lefter version of Charest would be Gary Doer. Though that seems far less likely.

    By Anonymous An Interested American, at 1:30 a.m.  

  • Charest deserves some consideration, but given the scandals that have plagued his government the past few years, that might be a tough sell.

    Still, if Quebec votes this year, the timing might be right for Charest to jump back federally in 2013.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:49 a.m.  

  • Justin Trudeau would be a disaster, but I'd like to specifically address this idea that capitalizing on generational shifts excites and energizes young people.

    First, Trudeau would not represent much of a generational shift (he is 12 years younger than Harper), and Second, they don't.

    Main challenger's age minus current PM's age, by election (higher = bigger generational gap)

    2011: -12 (Ignatieff), -9 (Layton)
    2008: -4 (Dion)
    2006: 21 (Harper)
    2004: 21 (Harper)
    2000: 16 (Day)
    1997: 8 (Manning)
    1993: -13 (Chretien)
    1988: -10 (Turner)
    1984: 10 (Mulroney)
    1980: -20 (Trudeau)
    1979: 20 (Clark)
    1974: -5 (Stanfield)
    1972: -5 (Stanfield)
    1968: -5 (Stanfield)
    1965: -2 (Diefenbaker)
    1963: 2 (Pearson)
    1962: 2 (Pearson)
    1958: 2 (Pearson)
    1957: 13 (Diefenbaker)
    1953: 12 (Drew)
    1949: 12 (Drew)
    1945: 9 (Bracken)

    Average: ~3.3
    Average in change elections: 4.7

    A few things should stand out from this. First, Stephen Harper's candidacy in 2004 and 2006 represented the greatest age gap in modern Canadian elections.

    Second, Trudeaumania cannot be explained in such terms - Pierre Trudeau was only 5 years younger than Stanfield. Trudeaumania happened because Pierre Trudeau was cool, not because he was young.

    Third, change elections (where a new party took power) don't look very different from ones in which the incumbent stayed in office. Old geezers like Chretien (and Trudeau later in his administration) fared well, as did some young whippersnappers.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 12:11 p.m.  

  • Yes but Chretien wore denim.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 6:05 p.m.  

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