Can it be any worse for Mayor Eddie Francis? I cannot think of a worse insult than that which he received from his so-called partner on the border, Premier McGuinty. Effectively, there will be no new crossing until 2013. So much for the Schwartz billion-dollar strategy that Eddie relied upon.
Clearly it was a big win for Dwight Duncan in the competition to be the #1 power guy in Windsor (and perhaps to get the federal Liberal nomination to go after Joe Comartin).
Can you imagine, poor Eddie having to go through Steve Salmons, the former administrator at City Hall, whenever he wants to talk to the Province about the border. Is that what adding insult to injury means?
Writing a Blog that is viewed by some as "political" results in interesting conversations with some of the movers and shakers in town. The big news is that even though we are more than a year before the next municipal election two warring camps have set up. First we have the "Trust Eddie" crowd who are spreading the word that Eddie is unbeatable. Then, shockingly, we have the "Anybody but..." camp who is trying to line up someone to run against Eddie.
The strategists are at play already. We have seen Eddie tell his Councillor colleagues some months ago that he is running for a second term. Why would he do this so far in advance when it took him so long to announce that he was running for Mayor in the first place?
In my view, he announced to tell people he was not running federally (who would have wanted to anyway at that time) but also to foreclose any of his Council colleagues, or others, from running. Why run now and lose, people are being told, when you can wait for three more years since Eddie has said he is a maximum 2-term Mayor. I have personally been told by several Councillors that Eddie cannot be beaten in their opinion. We saw a good example of this publicly when Gord Henderson in one of his columns dared Bill Marra to run.
In reality, what Eddie has done is buy himself some time to decide if he should run federally. (The Gomery inquiry’s delay has given him more time. That lets the major parties fight over him to see which will offer him the most and for him to decide who the winner would be. I am sure that Eddie would not want to be a mere backbencher). If he finally decides not to run federally, then he has already prevented possible opposition for Mayor at the same time. Keep those options open.
The fact that Eddie has developed such a strong opposition in such a short period of time is almost beyond belief to me. I know he promised a lot, perhaps too much and it was unlikely that he could do everything. But then again, Eddie only received 53% of the vote against someone who had to carry the previous Administration’s baggage and had to overcome his campaign team’s costly mistakes.
The damaging part for Eddie is that many are the people who helped Eddie win in the first place. In a nutshell, they feel let down. They had expected so much from him and feel he has not delivered. Whether it is a complex issue like the border or something simple like not returning a phone call or visiting a plant or giving a speech at a dinner, Eddie is losing friends. As someone said, it takes a lot of bodies and $750 contributions to run a Mayoral campaign.
The "Anybody But" crowd has learned from the past election campaign. They are out there aggressively looking for ONE candidate and only one. They know that if there is more than one good alternative to Eddie, then Eddie can be re-elected if the anti-Eddie vote is split. That was the big fear last time that Eddie and Bill would split the vote allowing Hurst to win.
Next time around, it is not going to be pleasant election campaign. It will be mean and negative. The arm-twisting will be intense. A lot of careers, and egos, will be at stake. So who are the possible alternatives?
On Council, Dave Brister is the one that immediately comes to mind, especially since Gord H. has called him a "sharp pencil." However, he needs someone to help him stop from making so many rookie mistakes. The fact that he has not taken a leading role for the Community that gave him the biggest number of votes of all Councillors will also hurt.
Joyce Zuk is another. She is probably the smartest and toughest-minded person on Council. After all, she had the nerve to tell Mike Hurst to "get out of the chair" if he could not run a Council meeting properly. And Joyce is trying hard to say that everyone is working well together on Council to preserve unity in a situation where Council is imploding with personal and philosophical animosities.
But the name that I have heard the most these days is Jo-Anne Gignac. That surprised me because frankly, I just cannot figure her out. I am not sure what she stands for or what her philosophy is. She speaks well and asks questions but I just do not have a clear view about her at all. To be taken seriously, she needs to start articulating a point of view that people can grasp.
Outside of Council, the name of Rick Limoges keeps popping up. He is well-liked and well-respected. But he has lost twice federally so would coming back to local politics seem like a consolation prize.
And then there is BILL! The ex-public host of Council Close-up and runner-up to Eddie. His "gentlemanly" speech after he lost won him a lot of admirers. If Bill decides to run for Mayor (and he may run for the Ward 4 Council seat instead), he will be a much more formidable opponent because he cannot now be viewed as "Hurst-Lite." That baggage is gone with the passage of time. However, Bill has to learn to make the "right" decision the first time around. He can no longer afford the reversals of positions as in the past. He also better drop a lot of the people who advised him during the last campaign.
I have heard that the Liberals are doing some polling in town. The results would be interesting. My bet is that all of the posssible people I have mentioned would like to know the answer too.
Question: If an election were held today, for whom would you vote?