Judy Alphabet & October 2011...
I've been telling friends for weeks that I think Judy Alphabet beats Mayor Sam Katz in the fall.
There's underlying support for a Sam Katz alternative. 65,000 votes cast for his less than competitive opponents in a not-a-good-year-to-not-be-Sam-Katz 2006 election.
I also think that the recent Probe polling was pretty telling in that it has Judy as a non-announced candidate at 36% to start the day. Now granted that's a lot of "Looking for an option and she's the best of the given choices" vote, but it speaks to an appetite for change.
You need to also look towards the Winnipeg Citizens Coalition and while the WCC doesn't appear highly organized yet - for example, I doubt they could elect any councilor in any race on their organizational might alone - they do suggest that there's the beginnings of a decent organization that Judy could tap into. Organization matters, even in an "above the air" campaign such as mayoral elections in Winnipeg. I'm less than convinced that Mayor Katz has enough key organizational benchmarks met six months out. The new hire at city hall does suggest some "time to pull up the pants" initiative, but we'll see where that goes.
Finally, I expect that the provincial NDP, tired of getting some shots from Sam over the last few months, will decide to actively throw their machine behind Judy.
Now the safe prediction - the easy prediction - is to say that Sam wins and Judy might make it close enough to make him work for it, but that she'll fall short. It would be easy to rely on "What always happens" and just run with it.
But there's no fun in that.
So here's the thing: I am predicting that Judy wins in October (with some caveats).
They would be that Judy has no major stumbles, that some new strange issue doesn't enter the current fray, and that at some point during the campaign, Judy gets under Sam's skin and he does or says something mean and something insulting. He's got a mean streak in him and a tendency to personalize. That reads to me as a good situation where he could lose a lot of the female vote in the city should the right (or wrong) thing is said.
We'll see how the campaign goes. I'll be sitting the mayoral one out. Can't stand Mayor Katz, but can't outright support Judy either. The idea of her negotiating with city unions scares me.
So I'll pick a handful of council and school board races and get involved there. Jeff Browaty, Grant Nordman and Scott Fielding for sure. I know all three personally and try to go to bat for friends. I'm sure there'll be a couple more along the way as the situation presents itself. (BTW, any good right of centre candidates coming forward for my home ward of River Heights/Fort Garry?)