Gardner departure sign of provincial jump for Watts?
As previously reported, the Mayor’s Office is undergoing a major shake up, with both the Communications Manager and the Manager for Intergovernmental Affairs having left their jobs right as 2010 began.
Many have been wondering whether this mass exodus is an indication of Watts preparing to jump into provincial politics – she has been propelled forward by the media as one of the prime successors for Gordon Campbell’s job as leader of the BC Liberals.
The former Manager for Intergovernmental Affairs, Chris Gardner, is a heavyweight political operative in the Surrey scene. He formerly worked with Doug McCallum and the SET team, has worked on his old university buddy Kevin Falcon’s campaign, and ran both of Dianne Watts’ successful campaigns for Mayor. His past political associations called into question his appointment to the position, which he took just five months ago in the summertime. Now that he has left the City, Gardner is free to quietly start up Watts’ leadership campaign – or so the theory goes.
Of course, according to the Surrey Leader, the official spin on his departure is that he received an “offer his couldn’t refuse” from his former employer. This is the same official spin that was given when he first took up the job.
However, Jonathan Ross, at CivicScene, also mentions whispers in the woods stating how Gardner’s departure is a signal that Watts’ bid is heating up:
And now I have received a few emails that Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is quietly preparing for the day that Premier Campbell announces his departure. More specifically, a major staff shakeup in the Mayor’s office as of January 1 has indicated to many political observers in the know that Watts is building her organization in a more formal and structured way.
To make things even more interesting, Alex Tsukamis, columnist with 24 Hours, revealed at length the underground plans to replace Gordon Campbell as leader, if he refuses to step down following the Olympics.
According to Tsukamis, the affable and infamous Carole Taylor is gathering up a team to take down Campbell. She has the name power and profile, perhaps even more so than Watts, to easily take the Premiership.
As the story goes, the Taylor camp will win the leadership, with Watts’ garnering second place. The two powerful women appreciate one another and would restart the BC Liberals. Following one term as Premier, Taylor would hand off the reigns to Watts.
In terms of constituencies, Gordon Hogg of White Rock will retire, leaving the conservative stronghold to Kevin Falcon, who now lives in that riding. Which, frees up Cloverdale for Watts. Taylor could easily take any riding in Vancouver.
This rumour is quite similar in substance to earlier reports that Hogg would leave to challenge the Mayorship of White Rock, leaving his riding open for Watts.