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Star candidates could be scarce for flagging Liberals

Then British Columbia Liberal leadership candidates Christy Clark, from left, George Abbott and Kevin Falcon look on during a debate at the B.C. Liberal Party Convention in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday February 12, 2011.

Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press

It's one thing to sell the idea of running for a party when it's securely in power with re-election a slam dunk.

But Premier Christy Clark faces a more daunting challenge these days. On Thursday, she told reporters she is talking to possible candidate recruits for the B.C. Liberals in the election of May, 2013.

"We're developing a list of really exciting people that will bring a lot to the ticket," she said, describing some of the mystery candidates as "well-known and prominent British Columbians" to be identified eventually.

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But she didn't answer another part of a reporter's question: How do the B.C. Liberals recruit star candidates when they are facing significant political challenges, lagging behind the B.C. New Democrats in every recent poll?

Former Liberal leader Gordon Wilson recruited back in the days when being a Liberal was an opposition gig. That changed when Gordon Campbell led the party to power in 2001. After that, being an elected Liberal meant being on a governing team.

"But Christy Clark is having a harder and harder time selling that," he said.

Mr. Wilson suggested some would-be MLAs may wait for the outcome of the political war between the Liberals and B.C. Conservatives to see which one stands as the tribune of centre-right political sentiment in the province.

In the meantime, he said, Ms. Clark could try a sales pitch that includes an appeal to the ego, casting the prospect as a "game changer" who can turn things around for the embattled Liberals.

But the pitch gets harder, he said, as the polls get worse for the Liberals.

"If you have to sit through four years of Adrian Dix, they're more likely to say, "I'll tell you what. Give me a call in the last year of Dix's four years, and I'll see who's out there and if I want to join.'"

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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