No Joy in Hastings (but lots of other New Democrats)

The race to succeed retiring Vancouver-Hastings New Democrat MLA Joy MacPhail hasn't started. But potential nomination candidates are already jockeying for position. Among them: CBC star Raj Sihota, Ms. MacPhail's former executive assistant. Ms. Sihota is currently the provincial Opposition's outreach coordinator, making her responsible for stickhandling caucus' dealings with everyone from the British Columbia Federation of Labour to Howe Street.

That job, and the contacts that comes with it, might seem to make her the odds-on-favourite to win the nomination. After all, Ms. Sihota's supporters also control the riding's constituency association. But she's taking a four-week vacation at the end of August to kayak the Mackenzie River, giving Shane Simpson extra time to campaign against her.

Mr. Simpson, a community activist and communications director for the anti-urban sprawl group Smart Growth, previously ran for the nomination in 1991, losing to Ms. MacPhail. He's married to Ms. MacPhail's constituency assistant Cate Jones and has been a strong opponent of installing slot machines at Hastings Park (unlike Ms. Sihota). That opposition, and his hometown boy credentials, should give him some strong momentum going into the nomination race.

But newcomer Tony Kosovic, may have an early lead over both Ms. Sihota and Mr. Simpson when it comes to getting his supporters on the New Democrat's membership rolls. Mr. Kosovic, who works as a prison guard and sits on the constituency association's executive, is rumoured to have already recruited at least 150 new members from the Croatian community and the Greek Orthodox Church.

British Columbia Government Employees' Union advocacy coordinator Jaynie Clark is also rumoured to be eying the nomination.

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