Monday, January 22, 2007

The Race for Moncton East

The seat held by Liberal elder statesman Ray Frenette from its creation in 1974 until 1998 is about to become vacant and the Liberals are hoping to increase the size of their majority from 2 seats to 3 - a substantive difference - and shore up their dissmally sized Southeastern caucus by bringing this seat back into the Liberal column.

The seat, won narrowly in a 1998 by-election by then-new PC leader Bernard Lord will be contested by Chris Collins, a Moncton city councillor and the 2003 Liberal candidate here.

After Lord announced his resignation just before Christmas, there were a lot of names being thrown around but in the end, Collins did not face much opposition for the nomination.

The result:
    Collins 120
    Daniel LeBlanc 80
    Gilberte Losier 3

To my knowledge there are no names out there for the PC nomination, please let me know if I am missing something. In my "bandwidth-choking opus" of an eleciton prediction for 2006, I said that "if Collins runs here again in what was once the most reliable Liberal seat in Moncton, Lord will be in for a fight. If Collins runs and the government changes, Lord is done for sure. Right now it is too close to call." Therefore, it should be little surprise that I suspect this will be an easy pick up for the Liberals.

Shawn Graham is quoted as saying the election call will come "sooner rather than later". The earliest date, assuming a January 31, 2007 vacancy (the date Lord has said he will resign), would be March 5 (an election called on or before February 3 could be held on this date).

Interestingly, the Times & Transcript reports that Collins will not resign his council seat unless he wins the seat, this could be a handicap for him and it would seem to suggest that he is not as confident in victory as I am.


Anonymous said...

I thought Liberals already had 3 seats advantage and this will make it 4. Did I miss something?

I believe Collin will win hands down. He almost won in 2003 against Lord. Now that Liberals are in power in Fredericton he should be able to.

You are right that he does not seem to be so confident himself.

Brian Cormier said...

Barring unforeseen events, this should be an easy Liberal win. To have a chance here, the Tories will have to run an amazing candidate... and I'm not too sure anyone "amazing" wants a guaranteed trip to the Opposition benches. This riding has had a government-side MLA (and two premiers) for about 18 of the last 19 years, so I doubt Moncton East voters are aching to remain in Opposition. They usually go for someone who is in power or who has a good chance of being in power soon. Stranger things have happened, though, but I think this time -- in 2007 -- it's the Liberals' to lose.

nbpolitico said...

The Liberals have a three seat advantage and this would actually make it 5 (the Tories lose 1 and the Grits gain 1). However, in terms of the size of the majority it increases from 2 to 3.

To illustrate..
total seats 55
majority of seats 28/55
current Liberal seats 29 (28 = 1 seat majority, 29 = 2 seat majority)
current Tory seats 26
Tory seats when Lord resigns 25
Liberal seats if they gain Moncton East 30

nbpolitico said...

Brian - it would indeed be a huge shock to see the Tories win here, even if they snagged a star candidate.

Anonymous said...

In 2003 Collins gave a then fairly popular premier quite a scare.

Keep in mind that back then Chris was relatively unknown, and he only took 2 weeks off from his job to "run a campaign".

Since that time, he has certainly been seen as the MLA in waiting for the liberals in the riding.

He did not run in 2006 as he had a trip to Australia with his son as part of the "Children's Make a Wish Foundation". He publically stated that his son was certainly a bigger priority for him than any political ambitions. He certainly did not lose any support in making that decision.

No longer a rookie in a provincial campaing, his experience as a popular city coucillor, and I would say a guaranteed cabinet seat make him a definit shoe in.

No matter who the Tories run, it will be at least 2-1 for Collins.

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MaZe said...

Calling a by-election in March would be crazy. Generally speaking, people don't vote in by-elections. Now imagine in a by-election in the middle of a winter strom! I believe Graham will wait until at least a month so the election day doesn't happen before at least mid-April.