British Columbia

Dianne Watts in a tougher battle than expected in South Surrey-White Rock

The battle for the riding of South Surrey-White Rock appears to be a much closer race than expected, as evidenced by the signs on Jesse Ketchum's front lawn.

"She has a wide reputation and a widely known name as the former mayor of Surrey, but that only goes so far."

Dianne Watts received 80 percent of the vote in the 2011 municipal election. (diannewatts.conservative.ca)

The battle for South Surrey-White Rock appears to be much closer than expected, and you can find the evidence on Jesse Ketchum's front lawn.

He has signs supporting the NDP, Liberals and Greens.

In front of them is a banner that reads, "Anybody But Harper."

"No one has thrown any rotten tomatoes at our house yet," he chuckles.

The riding has been held by the Conservatives since it was created in 2004.

Jesse Ketchum, his wife Nancy and dog Angus pose with their election signs. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Outgoing Conservative MP Russ Hiebert won by 20,000 votes in the last election.

The current Conservative candidate is a political rock star, former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.

It would seem Watts is the overwhelming favourite, but according to two new seat projections there could be an upset in the making.

Is Watts in trouble?

The website ThreeHundredEight.com has Watts trailing Liberal candidate Judy Higginbotham by five points and the Toronto Star has Higginbotham out to an even bigger lead.

"I think that she thought that this was a gift riding for her," Ketchum said.

Liberal candidate Judy Higginbotham. (Liberal Party of Canada)

"She has a wide reputation and a widely known name as the former mayor of Surrey, but that only goes so far."

Watts says she isn't paying attention to the polls.

"I think we've seen a number of polls that have been out there, and the only poll that counts is on October 19," Watts says.

"Rather than be sidelined by a variety of different polls, you just do the work and get it done."

Watts also points out that pollsters have a spotty track record predicting elections in B.C.

Liberal Setbacks

A Liberal win in South Surrey-White Rock would go down as one of the biggest upsets in recent memory, especially since candidate Joy Davies backed out of the race last month over controversial Facebook comments.

Former Surrey city councillor Judy Higginbotham stepped in as her replacement.

This controversial flyer was sent to homes in South Surrey-White Rock. (CBC)

Higginbotham says she didn't know if she could beat Watts when she entered the race.

"It's a surprise and I'm pleased, but having gone to the doors and having talked to the people it doesn't surprise me as much anymore, because I know in party politics it has most everything to do with the leader," she says.

NDP Charging

NDP candidate Pixie Hobby says her campaign has been gaining momentum since a controversial Conservative mailout was sent to homes in the riding last month.

The flyer shows a newspaper headline taken from the National Post reading "ISIS Urges Jihadists To Attack Canadians", with a highlighted quote "You Will Not Feel Secure In Your Bedrooms".

"I think that has eroded a lot of Conservative support because even traditional Conservative voters have been offended by this," Hobby says.

Watts says Harper has his share of critics, but he also has plenty of support.

"It's not a popularity contest to be sure," said Watts.

"You want experience, you want stability and you want someone who is capable, especially on the world stage, to make some tough decisions."

Greens Spend 4 Bucks

Green Party candidate Larry Colero spent $10,000 on his campaign in the 2011 election and he got trounced.

This time his only campaign expense is a $4 banking fee.

Green Party candidate Larry Colero has spent $4 on his campaign. (Green Party of Canada)

"Do I run another traditional campaign and spend all that time and all that money, or do I put my energy and my efforts toward getting a message out?" he said.

"I'm really doing the best I can to represent the Green Party and convince them it really does offer them a reasonable alternative."

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