Louie vs Jang: who will run for NDP in Vancouver-Fraserview?

jang-louie wrestling
Jang V Louie in a winner-take-all match for Vancouver-Fraserview MLA – click for larger

Thanks to the iron fist of Chief of Staff Mike Magee, Vision Vancouver have not lacked internal caucus discipline. Even COPE councillors Woodsworth and Cadman do not dare speak out of line against the wishes of the Vision majority. However, as election season appears upon the horizon, the bookies in Vegas are now starting to count the odds of Vision returning to government.

Will they lose three spots on council to the NPA? Four? More? Needless to say there are more than a few members of the present city council that must be making provisions for life out of City Hall come December. Vision and COPE’s hubris may cloud reality for some of the present members of council, but there are surely those who are working on their exit strategies.

Coun. Kerry Jang is considered among the low-hanging fruit in the Vision caucus, so it was not entirely surprising to hear Jang muse aloud to the Georgia Straight and CKNW over the past week that he’s being sized up for an NDP MLA candidacy. It was an extraordinary case of one member of the Vision caucus actually breaking ranks, and perhaps a case of Jang indicating that he’s seen the writing on the wall.

Kerry Jang is a boisterous supporter of the BC NDP, and in particular MLA Adrian Dix. Like MP Don Davies, there is rarely a photo op where Jang won’t jump into the frame standing behind Dix. Now Kerry says he’s getting calls from people who see him going Victoria-bound. Here’s what he said to the Straight:

“The question for me has always been ‘How can I move forward the agenda of housing, homelessness, and mental health most effectively?’ ”

The irony is Jang claims to be doing the same thing that Gregor Robertson wished to do, but by doing the opposite. Gregor Robertson told media he had to leave his MLA job in Victoria to fix homelessness and mental health on the streets of Vancouver by going to City Hall. Go figure, eh?

Then there is wannabe mayor and three-term city councillor Raymond Louie. Those who have watched Louie in action over the years know he has a very healthy opinion of himself, and has always felt that he should be the Mayor of Vancouver. But if Louie were to look into the crystal ball, he’s probably realizing that becoming mayor is not going to happen in the near future for two reasons.

  1. Gregor Robertson says he’s going to run for another term, and
  2. It is not likely that Vision will win government again in 2014.

For Louie and his family, holding onto hope that he will one day earn double the salary as mayor must seem like a pipe dream. In politics, the wise ones leave before they become stale-dated, and Louie has to be thinking about getting a few good income earning years under his belt before retirement.

What Louie has over Jang is a much stronger brand, experience at raising a lot of money, and the ability to assemble a formidable campaign operation. It’s because of these factors that the federal Liberals were quietly discussing with Louie in 2009 that he run for them in Vancouver-Kingsway so the Grits could pry loose the grip the perpetually losing candidate Wendy Yuan has on the riding.

Jang has big allies within the NDP, and he’s considered a charter member of the Kingsway NDP Mafia. He resides in the Collingwood neighbourhood, where Adrian Dix is MLA. That riding (Vancouver-Kingsway, and not to be confused with the federal riding currently held by MP Don Davies) is Dix’ to keep. However, there is another riding where a by-election looms.

That riding is Vancouver-Fraserview, currently held by embattled MLA Kash Heed.

While we do have to go through some due process around the accusations made about BC Liberal MLA Heed, there is no one I have spoken to in the past week who thinks that Heed will withstand the political storm he’s in. It is virtually certain there will be a by-election in Vancouver-Fraserview before the year is out.

The previous NDP candidate Gabriel Yui is neither sufficiently popular among NDP insiders nor voters to be welcomed back to run in Fraserview. Couple that with the fact he is also seen as a Carole James candidate, you can kiss him goodbye.

Vancouver-Fraserview is a predominantly ethnic Chinese riding, with a strong small business class and a lot of seniors. It’s a fairly conservative riding, that is considered a swing riding by both the BC Liberals and BC NDP.

Chinese voters will remember the fact that the BC Liberals tried to bamboozle them with the phony campaign leaflet circulated by Heed’s campaign. On top of that, there is still a lot of residual anger over the HST, and by-elections don’t usually get won by sitting governments.

If the NDP can bring in a reasonably high-profile Chinese-Canadian candidate, the riding is a lock for them. The two guys most likely to fit that bill would be Jang and Louie.

While there have been no public statements from Coun. Louie yet on his plans for the 2011 election, we know that he has had a very tense relationship with Mayor Gregor Robertson. Seeing Robertson hide under his desk and run for cover on so many controversial files must make Louie all the more frustrated that he is not the mayor.

Keep your eyes peeled in the weeks to come on Vancouver-Fraserview, and the two men most likely vying to replace Kash Heed. You heard it at CityCaucus.com first.

- post by Mike

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