(Some) campaigns picking up steam

A look at the landscape in the mayoral race

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One month ago, the biggest problem with Winnipeg's mayoral race was nobody was saying much of anything. Then the floodgates opened and the announcements went from a trickle to a torrent.

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/08/2014 (2911 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One month ago, the biggest problem with Winnipeg’s mayoral race was nobody was saying much of anything. Then the floodgates opened and the announcements went from a trickle to a torrent.

In the first mayoral-race power rankings of the 2014 campaign, Gord Steeves was in danger of drifting into also-ran territory. The landscape has since shifted, as the former councillor’s polarizing promises have changed the face of the campaign.

Here’s the latest set of power rankings, a completely qualitative assessment of mayoral-race momentum at this moment in time:

Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press Archives Gord Steeves' polarizing promises have changed the face of the mayoral campaign.

1. Gord Steeves (No. 4 in July): Two weeks ago, Steeves’ campaign could have tanked — again — after he failed to distance himself from his wife’s bizarre and victim-blamey Facebook post and subsequent non-apology. But the former Liberal stuck with his aggressive effort to remake himself as a right-wing populist who would freeze taxes until the polar ice caps melt, kill rapid transit to help ensure the ice caps actually do melt and prevent anti-photo-radar activists from having further meltdowns.

It doesn’t matter that most of Steeves’ promises either can’t be fulfilled or would require the help of an NDP government that doesn’t like him or his Tory advisers. If Rob Ford can become mayor of Canada’s largest city simply by mindlessly promising to “end the gravy train,” the non-crack-addicted Steeves could easily get elected in Winnipeg simply by telling suburban voters what they want to hear.

2. Judy Wasylycia-Leis (No. 1 in July): The left’s great hope in the mayoral race has been running a campaign modelled on Stephen Harper’s 2011 strategy: Say little, play to your base and let your opponents split the rest of the vote.

JWL hasn’t done much in this race but hit the festival circuit and make general statements intended to maintain the 40 per cent of voters she had before she even registered her campaign. It’s a sound campaign strategy as long as multiple conservatives stay in the race.

Unfortunately for JWL, she sent her base a confusing message by posing for a photo with Taras Sokolyk, the chief figure in the 1995 provincial vote-rigging scandal and a man still demonized by the leftiest of the left. If you live by the selfie, you die by the selfie, even if someone else is holding the camera.

3. Brian Bowman (No. 2 in July): Along with JWL, Bowman is running Winnipeg’s most organized mayoral campaign, with an impressive array of volunteers committed to his cause — whatever that may be. Winnipeggers still don’t really know what he’d do as mayor, aside from extend a tax credit for small businesses.

More than any other candidate, Bowman will be watching the pending release of a batch of polls, mainly because he had little name recognition going in. If he’s up in the high teens or twenties, he’s grown his base over the summer. But if he’s still in the single digits, he’s in trouble.

4. Robert-Falcon Ouellette (No. 5 in July): He’s polite, well spoken and out there with campaign pledges, surrounded by a small cadre of academics and Liberals. But it remains doubtful the university administrator has a volunteer base capable of identifying and bringing out the vote. He’s up a smidge only because he’s not part of the crowd on the right.

5. Paula Havixbeck (No. 3 in July): After a summer-long period of dormancy, the Charleswood-Tuxedo councillor came out of her slumber with a series of announcements. She was expected to be the candidate of the right, but Steeves has claimed that ground. She’ll need a bump in the polls to attract money in September and return to contention.

6. David Sanders (New): Advocates for city hall reform had high hopes for the committed activist when he registered on Aug. 7. But since then, he hasn’t done a thing.

7. Michael Vogiatzakis (No. 6 in July): The funeral director’s most notable recent move: Outfitting a massive recreational vehicle in campaign colours.

8. Hazem Aslan (New): The Handi-Transit driver-operator, who entered the race Friday, avoids the basement because candidate No. 9 has been running longer and hasn’t said boo.

9. Michel Fillion (No. 7 in July): If the booking agent ever needs a stage name of his own, “Fringey McFringe” is available.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 7:06 AM CDT: adds photo

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