Windsor’s Sandra Pupatello is clearly the front runner in the January Ontario Liberal Stakes. While that might not be good news for the Liberal Party, there is no denying that her aggressive and well-funded campaign is leaving her GTA opponents tangled in their struggles for dominance in that area.
Pupatello’s lack of a seat in the legislature and her statement that she would keep it prorogued until she has a by-election was a strategic error at the start of the campaign. Liberals are embarrassed by the use of what they see as a Stephen Harper/Conservative tactic to give the party time to choose a new leader. She is also confounding many Liberal Party members with her strong right-wing stance.
Despite her aggressive, take-no-prisoners speaking style in the debates, Pupatello’s campaign team have created a very personable Sandra in contact with Liberals across the province. In this type of contest, that is the ideal stance. The campaign is also beating others to the punch in using modern techniques such as a telephone town hall. Overall, hers is an innovative and friendly campaign that assumes the positive. It means that her campaign team know that her second and third ballot support has to grow. And, so far, it looks like it will.
What is difficult to assess at this stage is Sandra’s ex officio support. These party worthies tend to be more right wing and she will have a substantial share. We are assuming this could be as much as 30 per cent on the first ballot. These ex officio votes could take her up to 800 votes on the first ballot but we are assuming an averaged figure and are basing our forecast at 700 votes.
We get mixed readings from the Windsor area about Treasurer Dwight Duncan’s involvement. Dwight has alienated much of the left wing of the party in the area and it is hard to read the ultimate impact of this. The only good news is that Duncan is leaving politics and few will miss him. It is now more likely that it is his electoral district in which Pupatello will run, should she win the leadership.
There are two campaigns that could potentially upset the Pupatello express to the leadership and we will discuss those two campaigns over the next couple days.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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