By-elections customarily favour the opposition, giving voters an opportunity to express their discontent with the government. Nevertheless, the New Democrat's chances of holding Vancouver-Fairview - which was represented by Liberal Gary Collins between 1996 and 2005 - are less than certain. Party candidate Jenn McGinn - a constituency association president and Vancity Credit Union community business banking account manager - isn't a headliner, having been mentioned in the press just seven times prior to announcing her by-election bid.
By comparison, her predecessor, Happy Planet Foods Inc. co-founder Gregor Robertson, received 16 mentions prior to making his bid for elected office and was recognized by The Globe and Mail's Report on Business Magazine in 2004 as one of Canada's Top Forty Under 40. And Ms. McGinn's Liberal competitor Margaret MacDiarmid is - as former president of the British Columbia Medical Association - no stranger to provincial and national media attention.
Moreover, Ms. McGinn's electability is questionable. In 2005, she ran as an unsuccessful Coalition of Progressive Electors park board candidate, coming in twelfth out of a field of 19 hopefuls. And her party's opposition to the Campbell administration's controversial carbon tax could hurt her with environmental voters - especially since Green leader Jane Sterk is also running in the by-election.
Still, Ms. McGinn's candidacy isn't a write-off. In August, Angus Reid Strategies Inc. found 41 percent of decided voters support the New Democrats, giving them a three percentage point lead over the Liberals. Of course, that was before Premier Gordon Campbell rolled out his ten point economic plan last week - which has received more laurels than darts in the media.
But that was one of the few favourable headlines the Campbell administration earned in recent weeks. Which means Ms. McGinn could find herself with a seat in the legislature when Vancouver-Fairview residents go to the polls on Wednesday.