Your blogger, looking rather stout and unkempt, his faded shirt stained with crow gravy, with political strategist Stephen Carter, who popped up in British Columbia yesterday at a meting of B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s foundering conservative Liberals. Nothing more. Below: Ms. Clark
Alberta-based political strategist Stephen Carter continues to insist that British Columbia Premier Christie Clark has not hired him to turn around her foundering campaign against the province’s New Democrats. Alberta Diary has no choice but to take him at his word and eat some crow.
As we speculated back on Sept. 28, with Ms. Clark, “a conservative Liberal, desperately low in the polls, facing an election in less than eight months, having just been forced to fire her chief of staff for unspecified naughtiness, who would want to bet against Carter showing up in Victoria with a smile on his face and a nice apartment overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca?” Absolutely not, says Mr. Carter now.
The CBC’s report of Mr. Carter’s remarks to a B.C. Liberal pep rally in the ski resort of Whistler, described by some participants as a campaign presentation, can be read here. He told reporters that British Columbians really want to like Ms. Clark. “I think right now they want to like her, they just don’t know what it is she’s in government for. I think she just needs to get back to who she is foundationally and people will remember why they liked her.”
Sources in LaLa Land, meanwhile, insist Mr. Carter has met with Premier Clark’s campaign management team at least twice, although the topic of those conversations can only be speculated upon, as of course they will.
As is well known, Mr. Carter is an avid Twitterer who served ably as Premier Alison Redford’s leadership and electoral campaign manager, and a little less ably as her chief of staff. He also played a similar role in the campaign of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, although there are former Nenshi supporters who dispute the claim Mr. Carter’s role was quite as pivotal as it is now said to have been.
In all three cases – that is, Ms. Redford’s leadership campaign against front-runner Gary Mar and others, her election campaign against front-runner Danielle Smith and her Wildrose Party and Mr. Nenshi’s campaign against front-runner Ric McIver and others – Mr. Carter has been credited by many observers with having devised the winning come-from-behind strategies.
Since well behind B.C. Opposition Leader Adrian Dix is precisely where Ms. Clark finds herself and her party at this juncture, Mr. Carter must have seemed like a good fit for the B.C. Liberals’ campaign for the election they’re locked into fighting on May 14, 2013 – and perhaps that explains the reported sightings with Ms. Clark’s campaign management team.
Even without Mr. Carter’s help, the B.C. Liberals are going to have to come up with something better than dealing with Ms. Clark’s faltering likeability index. If they pay attention to Mr. Carter’s past campaigns, one of those better things could be an unexpected poll that casts their leader in a different and much more complimentary light than everyone had thought was shining on her.
This often seemed to happen when Mr. Carter was around, although perhaps that was just because he’s just lucky, which is certainly what he would like you to think.
Days before the second Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leadership vote in early October 2011, Ms. Redford’s campaign effectively used an unexpected Calgary Herald-Environics poll that put her in second-place behind Mr. Mar. This in effect created a new reality that motivated her supporters and gave her sufficient momentum to push her narrowly over the top.
The mid-September poll was controversial because it was based on a list of 22,000 card-carrying PC Party members that probably ought not to have been given to the polling company. You know, because giving it to them likely violated Alberta’s privacy laws.
The next day, Conservative Party President Bill Smith issued a stinging rebuke on the party’s website of whoever allowed the “unauthorized and inappropriate use” of the party membership list.
However, no one but the people involved really knows who gave the list to the Calgary Herald to pass on to Environics, and the Progressive Conservative Party lost interest in pulling on that particular thread the instant Ms. Redford became the leader.
“It’s the miracle on the prairies. Nobody would have picked her,” PC party president Bill Smith later said diplomatically of Ms. Redford’s victory. He has since moved on.
Similarly, back in the fall 2010, Mr. Nenshi’s campaign gained sudden momentum and credibility from an unexpected September Calgary Herald poll that put the mayoral candidate in third place.
Indeed, third place is where Mr. Carter likes his candidates to vault from – which could be a problem in B.C. since the implosion not so long ago of the Wildrose-style B.C. Conservative Party.
So if an unexpected B.C. poll suddenly puts Ms. Clark in a more credible position at just the right moment before the election date, it would be fair to conclude at least that the B.C. Liberals have been paying attention to Mr. Carter’s strategies.
And whomever is at the helm of Ms. Clark’s campaign, British Columbians should brace themselves for residential telephones ringing off their hooks with a barrage of automated robocall push polls designed to drive them away from the NDP.
NOTE: This post has been rewritten significantly to reflect Stephen Carter’s insistence he is not working for Christy Clark’s campaign.