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Elmwood-Transcona knee-dippers, you've had 531 days to find a federal candidate.

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Elmwood-Transcona NDP MP Bill Blaikie announced his plans to retire in March, 2007. That's a year and a half ago, and the riding still can't seem to get its crap together to find a star candidate or nominate one of the three people already running. Well, two declared candidates - CUPE's Kevin Rebeck and nurse Lorene Mahoney - and MLA Jim Maloway, who has been playing coy for months.

An election is now maybe three days away. At best the New Dems have a week. Why didn't the party nominate someone months ago, buy up all the bus benches like Tory Trevor Kennard did in Winnipeg South Centre and hit the doorsteps. Are they that confident?

The riding is probably the safest NDP seat in the country, next to former leader Alexa McDonut's Halifax seat. If this was a vacant and safe Liberal seat, the nomination process would be a bloodbath, with Glen Murray fighting Marc Garneau battling Gerard Kennedy. Instead, it's a snoozefest with no date set for a meeting.

Maybe the party is waiting for someone better to come along? Or maybe the riding association is in the back pocket of a candidate (Maloway) and is holding off the meeting until it suits said candidate? Maloway, who has lately seized on the Disraeli Bridge rebuild to get his name in the news a lot, might want to delay the nomination until the last minute so he doesn't have to give up his post as MLA, which Premier Gary Doer, who is no fan of Maloway, would likely pressure him to do.

Word is the party is pretty disappointed with the quality of candidates running in E-T. Blaikie did little succession planning. There's no buzz about any of the names and no one stellar will step forward because Maloway and his pile of memberships seem unbeatable.

In the general election, Maloway might not be the cinch everyone thinks, though. He's probably got a lock on Elmwood, but what about all the new suburbs that have popped up in north and east Transcona? Tories should see those votes as ripe for the picking. If Tory President Don Plett's bluster pans out and the Conservatives snag a star candidate, Transcona could be the sleeper riding to watch. Then the NDP will feel really lame they didn't get their ducks in a row, say, maybe, 493 days ago.

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