Sunday, December 10, 2023

Big caucus backing not necessarily a sign of coronation for MacKay, say politicos

Of the 22 Conservative MPs who have endorsed a Tory leadership candidate, Peter MacKay has received the backing of 20 of them.

As Conservative leadership candidate Peter MacKay garners a surge of endorsements from the Conservative caucus, politicos say those displays of support are not necessarily signs of a coronation for the former high-profile Harper cabinet minister.

As of Feb. 4, 20 sitting MPs and two Conservative Senators have publicly pledged their support to Mr. MacKay, including some who endorsed fellow Conservative leadership candidate Erin O’Toole (Durham, Ont.) in 2017.

“Many leadership races have proven that caucus’ perception, and not only caucus [but] the greater perception of who the frontrunner is in a campaign, is often proven wrong,” said Andrew Brander, past chief of staff to former Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt.

In the 2017 Conservative leadership race, Mr. O’Toole had the most caucus support, gaining the endorsement of 31 MPs and one Senator, but only finished third. Eventual winner Andrew Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.) had the endorsement of 24 MPs and eight Senators, and runner-up Maxime Bernier had the backing of only seven MPs and 11 Senators. Fourth-place finisher Brad Trost had no endorsements and no leadership candidate who finished outside the top three had the backing of more than three MPs.

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