ALBERTA

Dave Rutherford Contemplates Running For Calgary Mayor, Taking On Nenshi

06/05/2013 01:28 EDT

He has long pushed the conservative line in Canada's conservative heartland and he's now contemplating running against Calgary's progressive, pragmatic mayor in this fall's municipal election.

Dave Rutherford - who has been described as both a champion of Canada's conservative values, as well as a polarizing figure in an increasingly venomous Canadian political landscape - is set to retire from radio as host of the Dave Rutherford Show this summer. And although he has not officially thrown his hat in the rink, Rutherford has admitted he is looking at other opportunities and running against Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is one of them.

Rutherford told the Calgary Herald he has been approached, although he wouldn't say by whom, to run against Nenshi.

“At the end of July, the talk show’s retired, and I’ve said on the air that I’m looking at new opportunities — options open, new horizons — so who knows?” the Herald quoted him as saying.

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt told The Calgary Sun Rutherford would be in for an uphill battle but the radio host has some leverage.

Rutherford, "has an uphill climb,” he told the Sun.

“He’s got certain assets, some name recognition and there’s a bunch of home builders upset with Nenshi that I’m sure would help fund his campaign, and he’s got ties to various conservative movements."

Nenshi and Calgary home builders have been embroiled in a very tense, and recently very public, battle over the mayor's vision for the future of Calgary and the home builder's belief the city is trying to stifle development.

In a leaked video, prominent home builder Cal Wenzel was filmed outlining a detailed plan to change Calgary city council in their own image in the coming ballot.

Wenzel explained how certain home builders raised more than $1 million to aid several home builder-friendly candidates and how certain serving aldermen had been "looked after" in order to get them to vote "the right way."

It was also learned that conservative think tank and training institute the Manning Centre had been brought on board to train the challengers.

Such moves by more conservative forces in the city may also build momentum as Nenshi continues to be heavily criticized over the city's intentions for the recently announced $52-million tax surplus, which was generated after the city brought in more in taxes than the provinces had intended. The province gave the money back to Calgary's city council with the intent the city would give the money back to ratepayers, critics charge.

But rather than give the cash back to ratepayers, Nenshi has embarked on a massive consultation project to ask what Calgarians think city hall should so with the cash.

Although returning the money to taxpayers is one of the options, it is only one of five and not necessarily the top one, something that has put the popular, smooth-talking mayor in the cross-hairs of the provincial government, media and watchers alike.

But beating Nenshi in the upcoming election may still be easier said than done, as the Calgary mayor continues to rank among the top in popularity surveys across the country.

Rutherford told Metro Calgary it was interesting to watch the buzz around the mere suggestion he may run grow.

“There is a lot of reaction out there,” he told Metro.

“Whether that’s a barometer of anything else, I don’t know.”

No one has officially announced intentions to run against Nenshi for mayor this fall.

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