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Wasylycia-Leis strong in survey

Katz tanks in test of mayoral field

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Judy Wasylycia-Leis has the support of 45 per cent of Winnipeggers.

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Judy Wasylycia-Leis has the support of 45 per cent of Winnipeggers.

It appears Sam Katz has worn out his welcome.

And Judy Wasylycia-Leis could easily take his place at city hall.

Those are the findings of a Winnipeg Free Press/Probe Research Inc. city-wide survey showing Katz's core support at nine per cent while Wasylycia-Leis has the support of 45 per cent of Winnipeggers.

"It's been really nothing but bad news for Katz for months and months," said Probe president Scott MacKay. "I'm really not surprised he gets these low numbers. When his name is mentioned, it's always been in some kind of negative context."

Katz hasn't said if he will run again in 2014, but the Probe survey asked respondents whether they would likely vote for him if he did. The answers are bad news for Katz, who easily won the last three mayoral elections.

'It's been really nothing but bad news for Katz for months and months" --

Probe president Scott MacKay

The survey found Katz's total support at 22 per cent: nine per cent who would "very likely" support him and 13 per cent who would be "somewhat likely" to support him.

An overwhelming majority of respondents, 57 per cent, said they'd be "very unlikely" to vote for him and another 17 per cent said they'd be "somewhat unlikely" to support him.

The findings show Katz's support has dramatically fallen in the past year. In a similar poll a year ago, Probe found 32 per cent of respondents thought Katz should run again and 49 per cent said he should not.

"Looking at the two surveys, it shows a clear erosion in (Katz's) support," MacKay said.

The Probe survey found Wasylycia-Leis would benefit from a crowded field of right- wing and centre-right mayoral candidates -- though she has not said whether she will run.

Against a field of four candidates, the survey found Wasylycia-Leis, a former NDP MP and MLA, would attract 45 per cent of the vote -- overwhelmingly outpacing the field.

Wasylycia-Leis' support in the survey closely mirrors the support she drew in a losing bid (43 per cent) against Katz (55 per cent) in the 2010 mayoral election, essentially a two-candidate race.

The poll showed four seemingly strong right-wing and centre-right candidates in the 2014 mayoral election -- Brian Bowman, Couns. Scott Fielding and Paula Havixbeck and former councillor Gord Steeves -- would split the vote among them.

Steeves, the only declared candidate for mayor so far, drew a 25 per cent support in the survey, Havixbeck and Bowman each drew 11 per cent support and Fielding trailed at eight per cent.

If Katz were to run again and join an even more crowded field, MacKay speculated he would split the right-wing vote even further, making it even easier for Wasylycia-Leis, or another left-progressive candidate, to win.

The survey did not include as a possible candidate Coun. John Orlikow, a left-of-centre Liberal who only recently said he is considering a run for mayor.

MacKay said the survey might lead one or more of the possible right-wing candidates to reconsider, making it easier to wage a two-way fight against Wasylycia-Leis or another progressive candidate.

"If there is any strategy on the centre and centre-right, they will have to take a hard look at these numbers and say, 'We need one candidate,' and some people would have to bow out," MacKay said.

MacKay said a split of the left vote would benefit a lone right-wing candidate.

"But the stars would have to align in that way for Steeves to win."

MacKay said the actual campaign could produce a surprise leader who would alter the results, adding he will do another survey near the end of the election campaign.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 26, 2013 A3

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