On a momentous day for one of Winnipeg's longest-serving politicians, Coun. Harvey Smith rescinded his retirement plans, resigned his NDP membership and registered to run for another term in Daniel McIntyre.
But the 18-year councillor -- who lost an NDP endorsement in his own ward -- said Tuesday he still supports the Selinger government, espouses NDP ideals and wants to help the party "oust the Tories from the city hall" this fall.
Smith figures he has the best chance to win in what's now a four-candidate field in Daniel McIntyre, where insurance broker John Cardoso, Liberal-affiliated school trustee Cindy Gilroy-Price and NDP-endorsed Keith Bellamy, NDP MP Pat Martin's assistant, have also registered their campaigns.
"Even though I'm not endorsed by the NDP, people know where I stand," Smith said. "I think people know me. They don't know where the others stand on issues."
Smith, who sat on city council from 1980 to 1986 and then again from 1998 until the present, lost the NDP endorsement when a committee chose Bellamy this spring. Smith contested the endorsement process and asked for the issue to be settled by a meeting of party members. Bellamy won the ensuing vote, leading Smith to say he'd retire.
Since then, voters encouraged Smith to run anyway, he said. The logic of leaving Bellamy alone on the left was also nullified by the registration of Gilroy-Price, the former chair of the left-leaning Winnipeg Citizens Coalition.
On Tuesday, Smith sent a registered letter to the Manitoba NDP, resigning his party membership, party secretary Nanci Morrison confirmed.
He then registered his campaign at the city clerk's office and vowed to retake city council from what he described as a right-wing majority led by Mayor Sam Katz.
Bellamy said he was not surprised by Smith's change of plans.
"There are an awful lot of people who have a lot of respect for Harvey, but there's an awful lot who hoped he'd retire," said Bellamy, a political organizer who served as John Orlikow's campaign manager during the 2009 River Heights byelection and also managed Andrew Swan's aborted campaign to succeed Gary Doer as the NDP leader last year.
Swan endorsed Bellamy, leading Smith to complain Manitoba's justice minister had interfered in the endorsement process.
With four candidates in Daniel McIntyre, and the opportunity for more to sign up before nominations close on Sept. 21, whoever has the best political organization will win on Oct. 27, Bellamy said.
The NDP is now zero-for-two when it comes to persuading candidates to respect the spirit of its endorsement votes, which are not binding because political parties have no official standing at city hall.
School trustee Rod Giesbrecht has registered to run in Elmwood-East Kildonan despite losing the NDP endorsement to former CTV reporter Shaneen Robinson. He and Nelson Sanderson are now vying to succeed retiring Coun. Lillian Thomas, while Robinson has yet to register.
NDP secretary Morrison said party officials will revisit the endorsement process after the election is over.
"There have been challenges," she conceded. "The good thing about it is we'll have four years to look at it."
Katz, who has spent much of the year vowing to fight what he describes as a "very strong, very powerful" NDP electoral machine, said he still believes the party will be an effective force at the polls this fall.