Could history repeat itself for the Progressive Conservatives in Nova Scotia?

Jamie Baillie sure hopes so.

At dissolution, the Tories were in third place in the legislature — a spot where the party found itself back in 1998 under then-leader John Hamm. Hamm was able to lead the Progressive Conservatives to a majority government a year later.

If recent polls are right, Baillie has some work to do if he wants to grow his caucus from its current seven seats.

Power fuelling campaign

Expect to hear a lot about the high price of electricity from the Tories during this campaign.

Baillie has been promising to freeze power rates, which some experts say has not worked well in other provinces. As well, he advocates building a regional energy grid — a move he contends will save about $300 per family.

He has said the New Democratic Party's drive to have the province generate 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 will be too costly for taxpayers.

Baillie has also raised a red flag about the Maritime Link — Nova Scotia's contribution to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric megaproject — saying Nova Scotia Power might be inclined to make the project big and expensive to boost its own profits.

The civil service is also in the Tory leader's sights.

During the party's annual meeting in February, Baillie said he'd make good on former NDP Finance Minister Graham Steele's pledge to cut the civil service by 10 per cent. He vowed to freeze hiring and reduce government payroll.

Financial bailouts, such as the deal the province made with the former NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill in Point Tupper, will also be on the Tory radar.

Challenges

One of Baillie's biggest hurdles is the fact he isn't a household name.

The Truro native, who turned 47 on April 28, said people are still getting to know him. In fact, the party has recently produced and released a couple of get-to-know-me television advertisements featuring Baillie saying, "We don't know each other that well yet and I want to change that."

It's a surprisingly frank admission for a political leader who's been in the job for three years.

Baillie was acclaimed as Progressive Conservative Party leader in August 2010 after the deadline for candidates passed with no one else entering the race. He won a byelection in Cumberland South a few months later.

Baillie poked fun at his image during a speech to party faithful in November 2011, saying he was in line at the grocery store when the cashier said he recognized him.

"'That's right,' I said. 'You got me. I'm Justin Timberlake,'" he said in his speech. "He looked at me sideways, knowing no amount of Hollywood makeup would make that true."

While it was his first foray into elected life, it was not his first taste of politics.

Baillie said he knows what the province's top job entails since he's seen it up close, working as Chief of Staff to former premier John Hamm in 2001.

Prior to politics, the chartered accountant worked in the private sector as president and CEO of Credit Union Atlantic, as senior partner with the executive search firm Robertson Surrette and as vice-president of finance for Citigroup Properties.  

He is married to Sandra Crowell and has two teenage daughters.