Analysis & Commentary
From August 19, 2006
Every political party looks for stars, and in Moncton North the Liberals have found theirs.
Mike Murphy is campaigning with a twinkle in his eye as the provincial election gets close. He knows he's doing well - especially among ladies of a certain age who know the Murphy family name. Mike's father Henry is a former Liberal MP and judge; cousin Brian is the mayor.
"God love ya!" one woman exclaims as he strolls into her kitchen to talk about car insurance rates. Several neighbours seem to know the candidate already and greet him warmly.
"Star power" can be overrated in politics - a candidate has to work hard, too - but in a province where people still feel they're entitled to personal relationships with their representatives, a strong community connection or a high-profile name counts for a lot. And that may explain why this election appears to be a toss-up going into the final weekend.
When the Liberals started recruiting candidates months ago, they weren't expected to be competitive in this election. That lessened the appeal of running for the party - and a lot of solid, community-rooted people took a pass. There are some good Liberal candidates, but many others lack the kind of profile that is obviously giving Mike Murphy a boost.
Now that the campaign appears to have become a close contest, with tight races playing out in a number of ridings, it's clear that the Liberals might be doing better if they'd persuaded more "stars" to run for them. (In one area of the province, there's even talk that one Liberal is so unknown that they're dragging down other good Liberal candidates in the area.) "Stars" might have been able to pull in the 200 or 300 or 400 votes that could make all the difference on Monday.
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Analysis & Commentary Archive
About Jacques Poitras
Jacques Poitras was born and raised in Moncton and has worked as a journalist in New Brunswick for ten years, first for the Telegraph Journal and now for CBC Radio. He covered the 1995 and 1999 provincial elections and has also reported from Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
As CBC's provincial affairs reporter he travels from the backrooms of the Legislature to the backroads of the province, searching for the political stories that affect the day-to-day lives of New Brunswickers.
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