Helena Guergis has vowed to fight for her seat!
Yes, the quite famous MP and former Minister for Simcoe-Grey has come out swinging, saying she will fight for her seat in the central Ontario riding comprising such lovely areas as Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, and Alliston, and she will do so as an "Independent conservative."
I don't know what that means, but it can only improve Liberal candidate Andrea Matrosov's chances against who appears to be the destined Conservative candidate, Kellie Leitch.
But let's take a quick look at Simcoe-Grey before we make any conclusions...
Back in 2008, Helena Guergis, running as a non-independent Conservative - redundant, I know - won the riding with 55.05% of the vote, compared to Andrea Matrosov's 21.56, NDP candidate Katy Austin's 11.20%, Green candidate Peter Ellis' 10.13%, and a couple of other minor party candidates who got a little over 2% combined.
Not exactly prime ground for the Liberals, you say? True, 2008 wasn't a fantastic showing, but only two elections before that, it was an extremely close race, with the incumbent Liberal MP, Paul Bonwick, losing to Guergis by only 100 votes. In 2006, the race wasn't as close, but still fairly strong for a Liberal candidate in a rural riding.
So, there is a base for the Liberals to work off of, no doubt about that. That's good, and will work will in Matrosov's favour, as some similar situations in very blue ridings didn't lead to a favourable conclusion for the Liberals. Another thing working in Matrosov's favour is that this is a purely Conservative fight; Liberal supporters will not run to Guergis, who like Leitch, will follow the same voting patterns anyways. Yet, it's obviously not enough, unless Matrosov's can increase her vote substantially.
As I figure it, the Guergis-Leitch fight will end up dragging the Conservative vote down substantially, as Guergis does have some support in the riding it seems, and she will fight for it.
Think about it, though: if Guergis takes 20% of the vote, a good possibility, then that 55% becomes 35% for Leitch, just in the Conservative base alone. If she takes more, then Guergis and Leitch start sparing each other in a tight race. Matrosov's base, if we assume its around 20%, is already competitive in such a situation; given that former results can get up above 40%, though realistically without an incumbent MP, up to 30%, that's a viable target for Matrosov's to get to. That makes a Liberal squeaker completely plausible in a riding with two Conservatives going after themselves. If the NDP and Green support melts to Matrosovs, she's laughing.
Not a bad situation at all, but it will take three factors to pull something up:
1. Guergis must maintain a strong base of voters, around 20%, and aggressively go after Leitch and her campaign to draw votes.
2. The Liberal Party and the LPCO must devote resources to the riding. Matrosovs needs all the help she can get in terms of volunteers and money - maybe we should make this a target seat.
3. The national situation must be good, and the Liberals must keep their game up.
Two and three are manageable, while 1 is a little out of our grasp - but this is doable, people. We can win this riding back. And I'll tell you right now, I've heard Andrea talk before about issues in her area and within the Party - she gets it. She'll be an excellent MP. Let's give her some encouragement!