The last time I and my little media buddies were at the Croatian Cultural Centre was June 15, when thousands of people lined up to vote for a Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate.
It’s not quite the same scene this morning. The parking lot here is full, but partly because there’s a computer swap, a Kumon math session and a collectibles fair happening in and around the building. While Melissa DeGenova’s campaign team (mom, dad and a few others) hands out chocolate bars and brownies out front, while Wai Sin and Naresh Shukla teams are waving signs for their voters, there’s also a steady stream of people trucking computer equipment into the centre on dollies for the swap.
I’d be surprised if more than 300 people showed up to vote and few of them are staying, with the result that park-board candidates — the only people actually competing to be on the slate — spoke to about a dozen people at the beginning of the morning. It’s a bit fuller now, with maybe 100 people in attendance, but a lot of noise in the back from people who prefer to socialize rather than listen to the candidates.
As I’ve written before, meeting attendance doesn’t automatically mean defeat or victory. The NPA had 3,000 people out at its 2002 nomination meeting before being nearly wiped out after Larry Campbell and COPE surged to victory.
But it is a problem when you don’t have a competition for nomination because you lose that valuable pre-campaign advantage of getting thousands of names down as known interested voters for your party. As experienced campaigners will tell you, issues are one part of a campaign — but getting those marks is another. Vision is going into this campaign with 16,000 names, telephone numbers and email addresses, largely rounded up by people working for various candidates who’ve run for mayor, council, school and park board, compared to the NPA’s four or five thousand.
On the other hand, the NPA has always had a solid base of voters who are there year after year — the campaigners will have to counting on that group to be there again.