Strong MPPs in the north scaring away would-be challengers, analyst suggests
Candidates can still get on the ballot until May 17
With less than two months until voting day, there are a lot of blank spaces on the ballots in northeastern Ontario.
Only about half of the candidates for the three main provincial parties have been named in the region's nine ridings.
It's creating some headaches for Nick Stewart, communications manager at the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.
"It's very difficult to advocate for business priorities to candidates who don't exist yet," he says with a laugh.
Stewart says chambers across the province are having a hard time getting their message out with local candidates still to be named, plus trying to organize all candidates debates.
"From a logistics standpoint it's incredibly challenging to plan for an event where again three quarters of the people you want to speak at it haven't yet emerged," he says.
Kate Harrison, a senior consultant with Suma Strategies who has worked on Conservative election campaigns, says this lack of candidates is very surprising given the fixed election date.
And she expects parties are scrambling to nominate candidates and get campaign teams set.
"It's important that they get someone nominated quickly, but it's equally important that it be the right person for the region, otherwise they're not setting themselves up for success," Harrison says.
All the blank spaces on the ballot could also be a sign that there won't be many close races in the northeast.
Bob Richardson, senior counsel at National Public Relations who was once chief-of-staff to former Ontario Liberal Leader Lyn McLeod, says the region has many strong MPPs who will be tough to beat on June 7.
"It's tough for parties to get people to step up to the plate when they know what the likely outcome is going to be," Richardson says.
"I think if they haven't found candidates in these ridings you'll see a staffer, a former staffer, a riding president or a local stalwart taking one for the team."
The election campaign officially gets underway May 9, but parties have until May 17 to nominate candidates.