Dreschel wrote last week in the Speculator that Sam Merulla is considering running for the provincial NDP in the riding of Hamilton East Stoney Creek, this despite a promise made less than a year ago not to.
Merulla made the promise when running for re-election as Ward 4 City Councillor. He was clear, he was not going to run for higher office if reelected by the people of Ward 4. I know that many people were concerned about voting for Merulla because they felt he was too focused on moving up and would not put the necessary time into the community.
Now, I have not been in Ward 4 today at a Horton’s so I have not had a chance to feel the pulse of the community on the issue, so this is my speculation based upon my knowledge of the East End as an East Ender. I think that there will be a great deal of resentment that Merulla will have to deal with if he runs for MPP. Merulla has been taking a lot of hits on his handling of the C.D.’s affair and many people in the area of C.D.’s are extremely unhappy with the City (and by extension Merulla) because the City allowed C.D.’s to operate without a license for three weeks during which time another shooting occurred in the area of C.D.’s. East Enders have no problem with ambition, if Merulla were honest about wanting to leave City Hall for Queen’s Park people would have still reelected him in Ward 4. It was not like there was a choice in the election.
In terms of the HESC race provincially, it is a riding that could be picked up by any party. I would say, however, that the NDP has the greatest chance of picking up the riding. I say this because they have a base of voters in the Hamilton East portion. This means that they can focus their energy on getting votes in other parts of the riding.
The interesting thing about the riding is that both portions are vastly different. Hamilton East has little to nothing in common with the Stoney Creek segment. The voters are completely different making it nearly impossible for the NDP to find a candidate that can appeal to the entire riding, without which the NDP cannot win.
Merulla is not that candidate, he is too polarizing and will be very unpopular in the Stoney Creek portion of the riding. Frankly, I think he be unpopular below King St east of the creek within Hamilton.
The other two leading candidates will both be seen as “union bosses” within the Stoney Creek portion and in parts of Hamilton. The reality is that the NDP cannot win the riding by running a labour leader.
Now, before someone says “Marston won and he was a Past President of the Hamilton and District Labour Council”, it is important to note that he was primarily seen as a school board trustee. He also enjoyed two key factors that helped him win: a vote out Martin movement and Tony Valeri’s land flipping scandal. (Clearly McMaster saw how successful Valeri was in real estate because they quickly hired him to be a “scholar-in-residence” at the DeGroote School of Business) These two reasons enabled Marston to win. He also benefited from widespread him recognition. The point is that Valeri’s attempts to smear him as a “union boss” failed because he was not one.
<<<DISCLOSURE: The first race that Marston won was the first one I lost. Marston and I ran against each other in 2000 for School Board Trustee. His character during the race was outstanding and I could not think of a better person to be running against. He was amazing and never attacked, he focused on the merits of his positions. I endorsed Marston by advising people vote for him when asked.>>>
The only candidate that the NDP has running for the nomination that could win the riding in my opinion is Todd White, the immediate Past President of the MacNDP, who is young, intelligent and able to connect with all areas of the riding.