Saturday, January 12, 2013

#skndpldr Candidate Update - Erin Weir

As the candidate with the least name recognition in a field consisting of the 2009 Saskatchewan NDP leadership runner-up and two multi-term MLAs, Erin Weir has spent much of the ongoing leadership campaign working on being seen as a contender within the field, rather than being ignored an also-ran. And the most important publicly-available indicators (including his own campaign's much-ballyhooed poll, as well as the candidate fund-raising numbers) suggest he's met that standard so far.

In addition, Weir has excelled in the give-and-take portions of the leadership debates, sparring regularly with each of the other candidates and generally getting the better of the exchanges.

But to succeed in the leadership campaign, Weir will ultimately need to win over enough undecided voters and/or down-ballot support to build off of that initial position. And there's reason to wonder whether his early strategy and positioning may limit his growth potential as the campaign progresses.

In particular, Weir has focused most of his attention on policy costing and details - essentially taking agreement on progressive values as a given among the pool of possible voters, and choosing not to make much of a principled case for them himself.

In the longer term, that looks to me like a missed opportunity to build support for agreed values using the platform offered by coverage of the leadership race. But it also means that undecided voters comparing how candidates' messages reflect their own values priorities may end up finding less in Weir's presentation than in that of the other candidates.

At the same time, Weir's campaign has focused to a great extent on responding to economic news in the media - where he typically answers the compulsive self-promotion of the Saskatchewan Party (or in some cases the federal Conservatives) with what can seem to be an equally reflexive countermessage. That strategy certainly keeps his name in the public eye as a critic of the Wall government, but it too means that he's regularly seen responding to others' actions and messages, rather than building a leadership organization that can provide a model for the NDP's future growth.

To sum up, Weir's campaign has taken a relatively safe path toward being seen as a contender - but only at the cost of some significant limitations on his ability to emerge at the head of the pack. And it's an open question whether Weir's current messages have much chance of winning over additional members, or whether he'll have to change course significantly to reach out beyond his immediate pool of support.

5 comments:

  1. You'd have to be selectively blind to not have noticed that much of the 'Wall boosting' crowd seem to consider Weir as the candidate they'd least like to see win. There is a reason for that. Weir has consistently articulated a vision for the natural resource wealth of this province that stands is some significant contrast with Wall's. Weirs is smart, articulate, tireless and he is making the Sask Party uncomfortable. Many of us in the party are not prepared to assume permanent oppostion status while Wall and his boosters try to re-write the history of the province while the corporate sector hauls billions in resource profits out of the province without appropriate remuneration to the rightful owners ... the people of Saskatchewan.

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  2. To all,

    I have long believed that Weir & Wotherspoon are the only viable candidates. The others are good men, but not "broad enough" in their appeal to the voting "rabble".

    So I am *not* sure that LeftDog is correct when he describes Erin Weir is the *only* candidate who the opposition would "least like to see win". Both Weir & Wotherspoon present unique & diverging challenges to Wall & the Sask. Party.

    --------

    Erin Weir

    In Weir's case, the Sask. Party would be faced with a leader who can quickly & confidently neutralize any of their economic-based attacks (which, if anyone hasn't noticed, is pretty much all they have). But that alone is not the danger.

    The danger for Wall is that once his stock anti-NDP tirades fall flat...his frustrated "wing-nuts" within the Sask. Party will reveal themselves and take the initiative. These assorted cold-warriors & libertarians have no finesse. Their wild rhetoric & apocalyptic shrieks would only look comical in contrast to Weir's calm & friendly demeanor.

    The game would change, as the province would be presented with a calm & intelligent leader in control of his party...and Brad Wall who must apologize for the excesses of his.

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    Trent Wotherspoon

    In Wotherspoon's case, I suspect Brad Wall would look in the mirror, stand on his tippy-toes, and consider the purchase of "lifts"...perhaps even "high heels".

    Many political observers in Saskatchewan have an over-inflated view of Brad Wall. Unlike, say Stephen Harper, there is not one hint of sincerity or realism when Wall speaks. He is always condescending and overly eager in his presentation. Strip away the pomp & arrogance resulting from a temporary resource-boom & weak opposition...what you actually see is a short & slick car salesman (albeit, one dressed according to Mercedes' standards).

    In the right context, such a character becomes a liability. IMO, Trent Wotherspoon could force a context which reveals these deficiencies in Wall's peculiar persona.

    Just imagine a stage occupied by both Wall & Wotherspoon. Assume that the NDP has carefully prepared & launched Wotherspoon (as they did with Adrian Dix). What the average voter would see are two relatively young, confident, and well-spoken men. The most easily discernible difference being the "height & beefcake" factor...or more importantly: Brad Wall's lack thereof.

    Once the context changes, interpretation changes. Wall would resort to his stock anti-NDP hysterics...without the benefit of looking like the toughest and smartest guy in the room. This would render him almost a small & petulant child...in contrast to the tall & capable alpha standing in opposition.

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    You have an interesting choice Saskatchewan,
    Dan Tan

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