NPA mayoral candidate Tung Chan would give Robertson a run for his money

The race to become the NPA’s mayoral candidate is set to begin

We’re smack dab in the middle of a beautiful summer in Vancouver and as you can appreciate, politics is not on the mind of most people. Although the formal part of politics takes a break for a few weeks during the summer recess, that doesn’t mean the issue isn’t discussed on the busy BBQ circuit. The number one question I’ve been asked at almost every event I’ve attended this summer is "who will the NPA run as their mayoral candidate?" It’s not something I was hearing so much about six months ago, but the pace has certainly picked up as Gregor Robertson continues to make some major communication and policy gaffes. Can you say effin’ NPA Hacks, anyone?

Just last week I had a very lengthy conversation with one unnamed councillor in the governing caucus in Vancouver and inevitably the conversation got to "hey…by the way, any scuttlebutt on who the NPA might be putting up for their mayoral nomination?" The first candidate (a former Vancouver MLA) I named was greeted with disparaging laughter. The second name resulted in a much different response…that is, utter silence on the other end of the phone. That’s because I said the NPA was seriously looking at recruiting the ever-popular Tung Chan, CEO of SUCCESS, an immigrant service agency.

As I’ve written here before, the NPA lead by Tung Chan would be a formidable political force. I think the only other possible candidate who could inflict more damage to Vision would be my friend Christy Clark, top-rated CKNW talk show host and former Deputy Premier. That’s because she would attract a lot of dissaffected federal Liberal voters who previously voted Vision in the last election. However, I still believe Tung Chan has mass appeal on both the left and right side of the spectrum. He also is well respected by both the media and Vancouver’s development community.

I had the opportunity to bump into someone close to Tung Chan a short while ago. They confirmed for me that Chan is not only seriously considering a mayoral bid, but he has quietly established what is being dubbed an "exploratory committee". I’m also told that almost everywhere Tung goes these days he’s being accosted by people asking (some even begging) him to run for mayor of Vancouver. One person said that "Tung is kind of feeling like Carole Taylor was a couple of years ago. Everyone wants him to throw his hat in the ring in order to get rid of Robertson and his flakey policies."

The reason Vision is so fearful of having Chan as the NPA’s candidate has a lot to do with the powerful immigrant vote in Vancouver. During the last election, a large section of it voted for Vision in protest to the NPA’s shenanigans over the Sullivan vs Ladner fiasco. With that now a distant memory, a candidate like Chan, who was former city councillor, would be most attractive.

In the coming months, I’m told the exploratory committee will likely get out into the field and do some polling to see if a Chan candidacy would have any appeal amongst the electorate. The timing likely couldn’t be better given the Mayor’s recent fumbling over a myriad of issues this summer. There is also a rumour that both councillor Suzanne Anton and park commissioner Ian Robertson are prepared to set aside their mayoral ambitions and support Chan if he decided to run. A clear demonstration of party unity would give Chan a lot of momentum heading into the election. The election is still Gregor’s to lose, but lose it he could.

As for Chan, plans to track him down in the coming weeks and see if he’s prepared to chat with us about his political future. We’ve been told he may well be open to that discussion. If Chan is about to announce his candidacy, you’ll likely here it here first. Stay tuned.

– Post by Daniel

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  • Todd

    A 15% spread existed between Robertson and Ladner in the 2008 election at a time when Gregor and VV had that “Obama” effect when centrist, independent, as well as former NPA voters jumped aboard the VV/Gregor bandwagon.
    That shine has now more than worn off and many of these voters will head back home to the NPA in 2011. I would also suggest that Gregor’s 2008 spread of 15% has probably currently shrunk to 5%+ over any unnamed NPA mayoral candidate.
    The anecdotal evidence of the proverbial wheels falling off the VV bandwagon is everywhere. Even centre-left blogger Harvey Oberfeld recently wrote:
    “We elected what we thought was Caring Compromise … but what we got was Castro-style Compulsion.
    And “the people” are getting tired of it.
    A friend tells me that at his morning coffeeshop discussion recently, three people said they had voted Vision last election, but would not next time around. He made four.
    All of them, by the way, live on the city’s East side.”
    It’s now all about Gregor’s flakiness. And that’s why Gregor has earned his well-deserved moniker “Mayor Moonbeam”.

  • Glen Hall

    I’ve never thought of Harvey Oberfeld as a center-left blogger or reporter.
    Harv is a guy who fights for the little guy (no jokes now, be nice), the taxpayer, etc.. who has a sense of fairness and decency, and who absolutely is intolerant to the bullshit slung by the politicians he covered.
    That doesn’t make him left or right – that makes him a great former journalist and present blogger, that we could use more of.
    I realize you’re trying to sell your position that even a “center-left” guy has had enough, but really Harv is just a fair guy – period.

  • Tim

    Chan would clean house if he declared his candidacy. He has instant credibility in every corner of this city. He would be a refreshing change from mayor moonbeam and all his nutty ideas. Tung – go for it! You have my vote.

  • I’m not so sure Tung could give Gregor a run for his money.
    And I would like to know how you arrived at Ian Robertson and Suzanne Anton putting aside ‘Mayoral ambitions” for Tung.
    Suzanne, as has been identified endlessly, would be a woeful candidate for Mayor and Ian has never said he had any mayoral “ambitions” other than the observation by many of us keener observers that he would make a very compelling candidate for a whole slew of reasons.
    In fact, other than carrying the Asian demographic and having a long-standing track record of exemplary service in the city, Tung lives in Richmond and is not terribly fast on his feet when responding to tough questions.
    There are only three people that could knock off Gregor.
    In ascending order:
    Wally Oppal: He would make a superb Mayor, but also lives outside the city, for now…
    Christy Clark: Easily my favorite. Young, (now) seasoned and without the political baggage of her former husband. And she’s VERY impressive on her feet in rebuttal.
    Carole Taylor: DO NOT count the Grand Dame out. There would not be a single Vision seat on council, school board of park board that wouldn’t be in jeopardy.
    Tung is wonderful guy. But he’s got to run a flawless campaign and Gregor needs to stumble badly. Plus, Gregor has attacks mutts like Meggs, Jang and Louie.
    Tung has Bickerton, Anton and, if we’re lucky Geller.
    Of the three, only Geller counts as a reasonable mouthpiece, and only when he;s really been kicked.
    Politics, Daniel, is bloodsport. If you didn’t learn that working for Sam, you’ll never learn it.