Mike Harris’ people are rescuing Hudak.

The Ontario Conservatives have called in the first team. The rumour seems clear that Leslie Noble and Tom Long are taking over the management of Conservative leader Tim Hudak’s next provincial campaign. This remains in the rumour category because Noble and Long want to keep their respective private sector clients until telling them “So sorry, the Conservative Party calls.”

There are those among us that did not think Tom Long would accept the campaign management position because he might still harbour visions of replacing Tiny Tim as Conservative leader in Ontario. Since his failed bid in going for the national leadership of the Alliance Party in 2000, Long has longed for a return to the political spotlight. He is the type of person who likes to start at the top.

Teamed with Leslie Noble and Hudak’s wife Deb Hutton, it will be like the backroom of Mike Harris’ successful campaigns in 1995 and 1999. One thing you can count on is that there will not be a mistake such as Hudak’s last campaign manager, Mike Spiro, made in 2011. Spiro had a solid strategy going into the campaign but the length of the run-up to that campaign did him in. He did not adapt as needed through the summer to deal with the obvious concerns of Ontario voters over the economy.

But whether Tiny Tim can be resurrected is the problem. The current dissention in the Conservative back benches is not as much the problem as Hudak himself. He did not seem to remain up for campaigning last year. It was either the length of that campaign or he tires too easily. They might have to find a new strategy to fortify his presence throughout the campaign. Worst case they could send him on a holiday somewhere and tell everyone he has a communicable disease. Have we ever had a winner on a sympathy vote in Ontario?

The good news for the Tory brain trust is that the next provincial campaign is likely to be before the end of 2013 and will happen fast. It looks like the NDP will instigate it as that party has the most to gain in dumping McGuinty. It certainly cannot continue to support him. McGuinty has abused the NDP and shows no intention of coming over to the left side of the political ledger.

The only thing that can change the game is the early resignation of Dalton McGuinty. He has a brief window before the federal party gets into its leadership contest and once that is in full swing, there will be no room for a provincial event. Politics is always interesting.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

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