31 July 2015

The Friday before it starts #nlpoli

There are plenty of signs that the federal Conservatives will start the official campaign for the fall election earlier than scheduled.  Earlier being as soon as Monday, rather than the usual federal campaign period of five or six weeks before polling day on October 19.

You’ve got to call it the official campaign because the fixed election date has meant that parties engage in an unofficial campaign months before the official campaign starts.  All the Conservatives will do – if they drop the writ on Monday – is trigger some particular election rules and get the open warfare started a bit earlier than usual.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the early federal election will have a significant impact on the provincial election due in November.  We are not talking about the strain on campaign volunteers.  We are talking about public attention and money.

The federal parties are going to get pretty much all of those precious commodities for the next three months.  There’s almost no point in the local crowd even trying.

What kind of an impact that might have on the provincial campaign is a question.  Certainly the local New Democrats are hoping that the heavy-duty hype the federal party has been spitting out will paper over the problems the party is having in Newfoundland and Labrador.  It might. 

Then again, we haven’t seen the full impact of the federal campaign yet.  The Conservatives attacked the Liberals as their first target.  They wanted to beat them down so that their main national competition was the NDP. It offers a sharp contrast and not all of it is flattering to the NDP.  No one has seen what the Conservatives will unleash against Thomas Mulcair so they might want to hold off their ivison… err…  the ill-informed, giddy enthusiasm.

The provincial Conservatives likely won’t suffer from any connection to their federal cousins but they will likely find the money is drying up.   They will also have trouble finding candidates.  As SRBP noted a while ago, a great many of the seasoned politicians in the Tory ranks won’t be running again. Ross Wiseman is the latest one. He announced on Thursday that he was bailing out. The rest are second-raters and long-time political staffers like Darrell Hynes.

The one bright light in the Tory ranks is Judy Manning.  She had a rocky start to her political career but over the past couple months she has shown a far different side than the one the public saw before.  Manning stands a good chance of winning her seat.  If she does, expect her to quickly outshine the rump of a Tory caucus.  Depending on how things go, the Tories might wind up as the third party.

Meanwhile, in the Liberal corner, they will have to quickly wrap up their nominations as quickly as they can.  The current schedule has them wrapping up before Labour Day.  Then the Grits can put the provincial campaign in suspended animation for a while. The NDP and the Conservatives,  both far behind the Liberals in preparation, will have to pick up once the federal campaign ends at the end of October.

By the time all the parties get to Christmas, they’ll be worn out and likely their coffers will be well-depleted.  There’ll be no Christmas rest though as they will all have to turn their attention quickly to the New Year.  The political tornado of two elections in a row is about to begin.  What’s left in it’s wake could be radically different from what people expect now.