Saturday, April 10, 2010

On battle lines

James Wood offers up some more details about yesterday's nomination news in Saskatoon Sutherland. And the picture looks to be a positive one for the NDP on a couple of fronts.

First, there's a possible explanation as to what might have tipped the balance for Ryan Meili in seeking the NDP's nomination in Saskatoon Sutherland rather than Saskatoon Greystone - as one of his strong leadership supporters may be back for another run in the latter riding:
(F)ormer NDP cabinet minister Peter Prebble said Friday he has been approached by the Saskatoon Greystone nomination committee and isn't ruling out running again in his old seat -- although he strongly emphasized he has not made any decision.

"I haven't said yes to any proposition," he said Friday.

"It would be a big decision to re-enter."
Needless to say, Prebble's background in Greystone would figure to position him extremely well for the general election if he does decide to take the plunge. And it makes sense that Meili wouldn't want to pursue Greystone if the likely result would have been to rule out Prebble's return (or set up a nomination battle which would see one or the other removed from the party's slate of candidates).

Of course, the flip side is that the NDP surely won't want to wait too long to get its candidate in place to challenge for what looks to be an important seat. And hopefully we'll see Prebble or another candidate in place before long.

Meanwhile, Saskatoon Sutherland may also be looking like an even juicier target for the general election than I would have figured. While rookie MLA Joceline Schriemer isn't exactly a household name, the NDP's chances of retaking the seat should improve substantially if the Sask Party doesn't have an incumbency advantage - and apparently Schriemer is considering stepping down:
Like Norris, Joceline Schriemer was a rookie Sask. Party MLA in 2007 -- knocking off the NDP's Graham Addley in Saskatoon Sutherland.

But she said this week she's still weighing whether she will run again in 2011.

On leave from her duties as a city police officer, Schriemer said in an interview her first love is policing and noted it would be easier to return to that job after four years rather than the eight-year gap that would occur if she ran again and won a second term.
Now, I'd expect the Sask Party to want a decision one way or the other in relatively short order. After all, it has to be their worst-case scenario for a prominent opponent like Meili to have a year and a half working the riding while an unknown Sask Party candidate gets a late start due to indecision on Schriemer's part.

But it's hard to see any possible outcome for the Sask Party that doesn't represent a somewhat weaker position than having a motivated incumbent working to hold the seat from day one. While an early decision on Schriemer's part to step down would limit any disadvantage resulting from the NDP's early start, it would still result in a loss of the incumbency advantage. Conversely, if Schriemer now decides to run again, voters will surely have to wonder whether her stated preference for police work and uncertainty as to whether she really wants the job will affect their representation.

Of course, the Sask Party's hope seems to be that top-line voter preferences will work in their favour so as to minimize the impact of constituency-level considerations. But there's plenty of risk involved in banking on that possibility - and the NDP surely won't be disappointed to see the Sask Party gamble and lose.

Update: For those looking for extra reason for excitement about Saskatoon Sutherland, Jason's retrospective on the Meili leadership campaign is worth a read.

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