Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bevilacqua drops out of the race, but how much did Rae gain?

Yesterday morning, Maurizio Bevilacqua became the first of the eleven contenders to drop out of the race for the leadership of the Liberals. Instead of running, he has now thrown his support to Bob Rae's leadership campaign.

Seems to be peachy keen for Rae. The most right-wing and fiscally conservative of the candidates has opted to support him, thus helping to counter his image as a former NDPer. It's also helped to deflect some recent press which criticized him for his somewhat weak stance on the conflict in Lebanon. He seems to be a solid front-runner, and the press has certainly been referring to him as such. But really, what will Bevilacqua really do for Rae?

Bevilacqua signed up only a few thousand new members, has been unsuccessful fundraising, and has truckloads of debt. And there's no guarantee that the members that Bevilacqua signed up will go to Rae. While some of them probably will, most of them are right of center Liberals from the GTA that lived through Rae's premiership. It's true that Rae was only partially responsible for the economic and labour difficulties suffered by Ontario when he was premier, but he is certainly blamed by many Ontarians for them. The type of Liberals that Bevilacqua signed up are much more likely to flock to Brison, Ignatieff, or Dion, than Rae.

And as for Bevilacqua's ex officios (all half dozen of them), there's similarly no guarantee they'll migrate their allegiance. Many of them will surely flock to other candidates.

So what does Bevilacqua give Rae? A little more legitimacy maybe, but not much else.

If I were a betting many, I'd still put my money on Ignatieff or Dion. Given a choice between Kennedy and Rae, where I would have probably chosen Kennedy before, I might choose Rae now. But unlike some other bloggers, my odds are certainly not on Rae.


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