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COPE's Cadman 'Likely' to Run for Mayor

Predicts split left will hand Sullivan another term.

By Monte Paulsen 2 Apr 2008 | TheTyee.ca

Monte Paulsen is investigative editor of The Tyee. He welcomes e-mail and invites respectful comment in the forum below.

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Vancouver councillor David Cadman.

Vancouver City Councillor David Cadman is likely to run for mayor, a bid he predicts will likely assure re-election of the right-leaning Non-Partisan Association for another term.

"Members of the party have been very much urging that I lead the party into the next election," Cadman told The Tyee. "In all likelihood, yes, I'll run."

Cadman said the left-leaning Council of Progressive Electors (COPE) has "wasted months" in unsuccessful efforts to join forces with the centre-left Vision Vancouver party in a joint campaign. COPE is expected to begin planning an independent campaign this week.

"We're now at a point where it's pretty clear COPE is going to go its own way," Cadman said. "And the consequence of that, in all likelihood, is that Sam Sullivan will be re-elected."

SFU political scientist Kennedy Stewart agreed with that prognosis.

"COPE can kill Vision, simply by entering the race," Stewart said. "When you have two parties on the left and one on the right, the right wins."

Members stymied by egos, says Cadman

Cadman and other COPE members blame Vision for the breakdown.

"I had hoped that what could have happened --- and I put that in the past tense now --- was to work out a way to run a common mayor, a common slate, and a common campaign," Cadman said.

"I think that could have been done. But I think there is no interest on the part of Vision to do that. They played their hand, and now the time has passed."

Cadman said that most of COPE's 1,200 members want a common campaign, as do most Vision members, but "small groups" of people within each party have persistently derailed efforts toward reconciliation.

"When all is said and done, I think the division is more about personalities than substance," Cadman said, noting that the two parties worked well together on council "99 per cent" of the time.

"I think when history looks at the role they played in breaking up an elected COPE majority, and when history looks at the unwillingness to find accommodation, history will ask, 'Who are these people and how did they put their egos and their interests before the interest of the entire city?'" he said.

Cadman said the COPE executive would meet this Thursday night to "begin batting around dates" and "look at hall availability" for a June nominating convention.

"It's time to decide that, yes, we are going to run a mayor, and, yes, we are going to run a majority --- if not a full slate --- for city council, school board and parks board," Cadman said.

"I'm not comfortable re-electing Sam," he added. "But I really think it's best we all get on and accept we are going to be running against each other."

Vision's recent appeal

Vision Vancouver co-chair Mike Magee said his party still hopes to form an alliance with COPE, particularly around supporting a single mayoral candidate.

"I think we need to explore every conceivable strategy for collaborating to defeat Sam Sullivan," Magee said. "That means working with all progressive forces in this city, including COPE and the Green Party."

Two weeks ago, Vision co-chairs Magee and Carolyn Askew effectively asked COPE to delay selecting a mayoral candidate until after a Vision nominee emerges.

"We would be open to discussions concerning how Vision Vancouver and COPE can work together to re-elect all incumbents, and ensuring we unite the progressive vote to assure victory," stated the March 14 letter.

"Vision Vancouver is currently undergoing a mayoral nomination process. Once this contest has concluded, it is our hope the COPE members will have an opportunity to decide on whether to support that successful individual."

Cadman said that offer was too little, too late. He said the news media would ignore a COPE campaign that lacked a mayoral candidate, hampering the efforts of COPE candidates for council, school board and parks board. And he said that COPE could not wait until after Vision's June 15 nomination meeting to make a decision.

"June is too late. We can't begin to sit down and work things out five months before an election," Cadman said. "The NPA is nominating their candidates on June 8. They are going to campaign through the summer. Our sense is that we should do the same."

'Sullivan will win this thing'

"No one can ensure the re-election of Sam Sullivan better than COPE," said Kennedy Stewart, a political scientist who teaches at Simon Fraser University.

"I think Sullivan will likely win the NPA nomination," he explained. "A COPE candidate will win 20,000 votes. Those votes will come at the expense of the Vision candidate. So if COPE run, Sullivan will win this thing."

That argument was proven in 2005, when an independent mayoral candidate named James Green won 4,273 votes. Sullivan won the race with 61,543 votes, beating Vision Vancouver candidate (and former COPEster) Jim Green, who carried 57,796 votes --- a difference of only 3,747.

"On the other hand, if COPE and Vision can get together, Sullivan will get crushed," Stewart said.

"Historically, a candidate has only needed about 60,000 votes to become mayor of this city," Stewart explained. That's about the same number of people it takes to fill B.C. Place stadium.

"The NPA has pretty well maxed out its universe," he said. "Turnout in neighbourhoods such as Shaughnessy and Kerrisdale and other parts of the NPA base are already up to 80 or 90 per cent. They're not going to find many more voters there. The only thing the NPA could do to expand its base is to appeal to other types of voters. But then their vote share would drop in those traditional NPA neighbourhoods."

Parties such as Vision or COPE, on the other hand, can appeal to the creative class and ethnic voters who are driving Vancouver's growth, he said.

"That's how Larry Campbell won 80,000 votes in 2005. You're never going to see Sam Sullivan win 80,000 votes, no matter what he does," Stewart said.

"If COPE and Vision could get it together --- and if they ran full slates --- you could actually see the NPA get entirely wiped out," he concluded.

Expect 'bitter' campaign: Cadman

The Tyee asked Cadman whether COPE would welcome an individual candidate seeking the support of COPE's membership in advance of the Vision nomination.

"I've had those conversations," Cadman said. "I think the Vision mayoral candidates are afraid to step forward to be the candidate of unity out of fear that it may cost them votes in a Vision nominating meeting."

Conversely, Cadman sees Vision's wide-open mayoral nomination contest as a potential opportunity for COPE.

"Nobody knows who the Vision candidate is going to be." Cadman said.

"We could wind up with Sam Sullivan representing the NPA and Al De Genova --- who elected Sam --- representing Vision. I think that would leave a broad swath of progressive voters who would be inclined to support me.

"If Al wins, Vision will no longer be a progressive organization. Al has very clearly said he wants to take the party to the right," Cadman said. "...a De Genova victory would be the end of Vision."

Cadman predicted that in that event, progressives and New Democrats would turn to COPE to rebuild a coalition with labour, which has funded previous COPE efforts. The party remains deeply in debt from its 2002 campaign, which elected a majority council under Mayor Larry Campbell.

"The nature of this campaign, unfortunately, is that it's going to get very bitter," Cadman said.

TOMORROW: Vision Candidates

NEXT WEEK: NPA Candidates

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