Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bowing out before race for mayor even begins

Labour support a key issue

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John Orlikow boasted in January he would easily be elected Winnipeg's next mayor.

But Friday afternoon, the councillor from River Heights said he won't run after all.

"Running for mayor is not the right decision for me at this time," Orlikow said in a statement on his web page, citing his obligation to his family as outweighing his earlier confidence.

Orlikow is known as a progressive and his withdrawal clears the way for the only other centre-left contender, Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

"If Orlikow had come on, he would have taken votes from Wasylycia-Leis," Scott MacKay, president of Probe Research, said.

The woman who lost to Sam Katz in 2010 has been publicly toying with the idea of running again.

Orlikow's announcement in January he would run threatened to siphon support from Wasylycia-Leis.

But it appears Orlikow's support wasn't as strong as he claimed. Speculation in left-wing circles is that the Winnipeg Labour Council will endorse Wasylycia-Leis for mayor. With that endorsement looming, the rumour this week was Orlikow had made up his mind to withdraw.

The Free Press asked Orlikow on April 8 if he had changed his mind about running, and he replied he had not.

Labour council president Dave Sauer said recently no decision has been made about which individual to endorse for mayor.

MacKay said it would be a good strategy for the labour council to ensure Wasylycia-Leis is the only left-of-centre candidate in the Oct. 22 election.

"I can see how if you really wanted to assure that there would be a victory on the left, you'd want to minimize the candidates there," MacKay said.

Technically, there are no candidates yet for mayor. Individuals cannot legally declare until May 1 but that hasn't stopped some, including Orlikow, who said they will run.

Katz, whose poll numbers are dismal, has not said whether he will run.

A Free Press/Probe poll found Katz had the support of 22 per cent of respondents -- a significant decrease from the 55 per cent support he attracted in 2010 when he defeated Wasylycia-Leis, in what was essentially a two-person contest.

Two polls have placed Wasylycia-Leis as the favourite in a field with several centre-right opponents: The December Free Press/Probe poll found she had 45 per cent support; and a February poll by Insightrix Research had her with 42 per cent.

Former councillor Gord Steeves and funeral home owner Mike Vogiatzakis have said they intend to run for mayor.

Steeves drew 25 per cent in the Free Press/Probe poll and 17 per cent in the Insightrix poll.

Privacy lawyer Brian Bowman (11 per cent FP/Probe; six per cent Insightrix) and Coun. Paula Havixbeck (11 per cent FP/Probe; nine per cent Insightrix) said they are considering.

Coun. Scott Fielding (eight per cent FP/Probe; six per cent Insightrix), who has been releasing campaign-like policy statements for several weeks, said he's also considering.

Orlikow said he will run for re-election in River Heights, which he first won in a March 2009 byelection.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 B2

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