So here we are in late fall with just 28 sitting days left for the House of Commons before the Christmas/New Year's break.
At last count we had 12 people who have entered the Conservative leadership race or who have said they will enter it, all believing in their own mind that they can be the next prime minister of Canada, assuming of course they win the next federal election. There are also a few who are supposedly/maybe/considering/possibly going to run from outside of the party and one other former minister, Lisa Raitt, who is said to be considering a bid. There are probably others out there as well.
When you look at all of those above, it's an interesting bunch:
- Some who insist on running on policies that cost us the election and helped to decimate the party in urban centers
- Some who feel they can win a national campaign when they couldn't even win their own seat
- Some who think they can win a national election by re-fighting social policy issues of the 70s and 80s
- And people who have never run for anything, but somehow feel they can win a national campaign.
If you believe all of their rhetoric every one of them is the only "true conservative" running.
Within the list of those declared or thinking about it, there are some serious candidates for party members to view, judge and cast their vote for, but right now much of what they say is buried in the media with some of the comments coming out of the mouths of other candidates.
Sadly the public (read: voters) will eventually hear a lot more of these negative comments and in some cases stupid ones, as the days and weeks move forward towards May 27, 2017. Both the public and party members will eventually see some serious policy positions put forward and the party membership will have a chance to review and pronounce on them. Party members, the media and voters will also get a chance to judge the candidates and see which one has what it takes and also who has let their ego take them into this leadership campaign.
In the meantime there will be three primary factors which will limit who stays in the race and weed out the wannabees.
1. Money -- who can raise it for a long campaign and who can't. Tony Clement, who is a pretty decent guy, found that out the hard way that it will be a lot tougher than most think, as will a few others in the days ahead.
2. Their ground game. I agree with Georganne Burke that it can't be just an air war; you need people on the ground in every riding to ensure that your candidate wins a significant percentage of the vote.
3. The team you can put in place, senior advisors, communication specialists, speech writers, policy wonks, advance people, issues management, rapid response teams and the list goes on. There are only so many talented people to go around and as things get serious, it will be interesting to see which candidate or candidates attracts the best and the brightest.
If you are presently a party member and on one of their email lists, you will be receiving press releases and letters from very few candidates at this time. If only a few in that large group above have received their lists from the party after paying up the needed funds to run, what does that say about their fundraising ability, their organization or lack of one, or their ability to attract staff capable of fundraising and putting a serious campaign in place?
Until the fundraising campaign, organizational work and staffing is completed the party membership will have to put up with this nonsense and all of these supposed candidates.
Unfortunately so will the public who will be judging each candidate not only on their merits, but also on their comments and their policy positions. The public and many of them will be voters in the next election; will also be labeling the Conservative party with all of them -- both the good and the bad.
In the end that is where the damage will be done to the Conservative brand and its chances of winning the next election.
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