Top of Mind - January 17, 2011

What are Mike Farnworth's chances of succeeding Carole James as leader of the provincial New Democrats?

As we earlier reported, Mr. Farnworth has put reuniting the party at the front of his leadership campaign platform. Indeed, during the launch speech for that campaign, Mr. Farnworth said what Ms. James should have said long ago: that everyone - both the dissidents and the loyalists - "share responsibility" for the recent internal strife within the party, adding "I want to make it clear that you all deserved better." That message could have traction with some New Democrats, especially given the Port Coquitlam MLA's affability. But, from a policy standpoint, many of the opposition house leader's initial proposals could have easily come from Ms. James - being moderate and non-controversial. Indeed, one of the knocks against the Port Coquitlam MLA is that he appears to be, at times, overly cautious. So will Mr. Farnworth's stylistic differences with the outgoing party leader be enough to win him the New Democrat leadership race?

What are John Horgan's chances of succeeding Ms. James?

Mr. Farnworth - the New Democrats' public safety critic - has accumulated some populist credentials thanks to his tough-on-crime approach. But Mr. Horgan is more of a natural populist than the opposition house leader, attacking "vested interests," as well as "Toronto or Bermuda" shareholders in his leadership campaign launch speech. As already noted by University of Victoria political science professor emeritus Norman Ruff in The Globe and Mail, that populism could play well with the electorate. But the Juan de Fuca MLA's limited campaign machinery may not be able to capitalize on that quality. And as a result of being such a strong James loyalist, Mr. Horgan may have marginalized some of the very people who his sustainable development platform might have appealed to - dissident MLAs with concerns about rural and environmental issues.

What affect will Ms. James's pronouncements have on the race to succeed her?

Last week, in an exclusively interview with the Times Colonist's Rob Shaw, Ms. James maintained she hold no bitterness toward those who opposed her leadership. Nevertheless, that didn't stop her - in a separate interview with The Globe and Mail's Ian Bailey - from, in affect, throwing two of the dissidents looking to succeed her under the bus. But Nicholas Simons and Harry Lali should take some comfort that Ms. Jame's political capital within the New Democrats has always been limited - even more so now that she's headed out the door. And those she still does have purchase with probably wouldn't have voted for them anyway.


Mike should stay as in position he now holds. The guy is great in that position. Adrian Dix will be the opposition leader, and next election, the Premier.

I agree with Harry Lali that there should be no gender restrictions when selecting candidates for public office. Which person - male or female - has the best politics should be the only criterion.

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