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NDP battle Tories for polarized Pitt-Maple-Mission seat

For the last two elections, New Democratic Party candidate Mike Bocking has played second fiddle to Conservative incumbent Randy Kamp in the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission. But this time around, he’s hoping for a reversal in what promises to be a stiff competition for the historically polarized riding.

“It’s a two-headed race between us and the Conservatives,” the NDP's Bocking told The Tyee.

During the 2004 election, the NDP candidate took almost 33 per cent of the vote but lost out to Kamp by less than three thousand votes. Those results were rehashed in 2006 when Bocking and his Conservative rival sparred off with almost identical results.

In both elections, the Liberals trailed as a distant third, cementing the riding as a contest between opposite ends of the political spectrum.

“It’s been Randy and myself,” said Bocking. “I guess it is getting to be a bit of a long-going race.” But such ideological competition here is nothing new, he said.

From its formation in the late 1970s onwards, control of the riding has see-sawed back and forth between the NDP and various right-leaning parties. Mark Rose held it for the NDP until 1984, when Gerry St. Germain nabbed it for the Progressive Conservatives. For the next two decades or so, the riding’s political stripes have shifted every few years.

On October 14, Bocking is hoping that he can make good on the trend by seizing Kamp’s spot in parliament. But to do that, he’ll also have to contend with recently announced Liberal candidate Dan

Olsen, a small businessman and long-time resident of Maple Ridge.

Though Bocking stops short of calling his contest with Kamp a feud, it’s obvious a certain amount of personal competition plays into his election campaign.

“(Kamp) and I are very different folks,” he said.

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for the Hook.

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