Keanin Loomis is the first major candidate to definitively declare they are running for mayor of Hamilton in the 2022 municipal election.
Former Mayor Bob Bratina and current Mayor Fred Eisenberger have issued statements indicating they are leaning towards running. Loomis is first out of the gate.
I have three columns forthcoming on Loomis’ announcement and a post looking at some similarities to Winnipeg’s 2014 mayor race which saw a candidate with some similarities to Loomis win.
The columns are in draft format. The full columns will be posted in the coming day.
- Loomis Declares Early, What Advantage Does That Give Him?;
- If Loomis is Mayor, Forget the Bully Pulpit, Looking at His Staffing;
- Loomis Day One: Positioning on Character Not Issues; and
- A first-time candidate with a Chamber of Commerce CV, a profoundly unpopular mayor who retires, well-known experienced front-runners, the novice wins: Winnipeg 2014, could it happen in Hamilton?
Here are the summarized versions of them.
The Advantage of Being First to Declare
Jumping out of the gate first will improve Loomis’ ability to recruit key campaign advisors and secure donors. It increases his name recognition because nearly every media story about the municipal election will mention his candidacy.
Today is an example. If Loomis were running for Ward 1 councillor, it be news, but it would not be *thee* news.
To an extent, Loomis may discourage Eisenberger from running.
Loomis and Eisenberger will try to straddle the same area of the political spectrum, and ‘splitting’ voters wherever on the spectrum they land will be disadvantageous to both campaigns.
Rumours of a left-centre candidate, a well-regarded and experienced NDPer, continue to grow. Loomis may hope to capture some donors and volunteers which both he and this rumoured candidate will compete for.
The Mayor’s Bully Pulpit?
Pay Attention to the Mayors Staff
The “bully pulpit”, as it is often called, is only as good as the mayor preaching behind it, and the mayor is only as good as their staff.
Staffing is a potential strength for Loomis, his hiring record at the Chamber is good. I’ve watched during the past decade as hires, fresh out of university, have got their start at the Chamber. After a few years, having grown working at the Chamber, they’ve moved onto roles of great responsibility – including on Parliament Hill and at Queen’s Park.
The Chamber’s budget is not public, but its staffing complement is similar to that of the Mayor’s Office.
A mayor with good research and policy staff, led by a savvy chief of staff, gets to set the agenda at Council. Loomis will benefit from a wide network to recruit talented staff.
Staffing won’t be a public campaign issue. It is something TPR will watch during the campaign for each candidate, will their mayoral campaigns follow them into 71 M
Loomis’ Day One Message is Character and Change, Policy Will Have To Wait
Loomis had his speaking points today. All politicians have speaking points. This is not a criticism. It is just a fact.
Today’s plan for Loomis? Talk about character, change, and establish his Chamber experience as bona fides for becoming mayor.
On CHCH Morning Live, he said he is “ready to tackle” the “big issues” and the “great opportunities” coming up in Hamilton.
“I’m not a politician. I’m a very political person, but not a politician. And I’m hoping that there’s an appetite for that as well,” Loomis stated to establish himself as the outsider candidate, while at the same time acknowledging that as Chamber head, he’s been and is a political figure.
On CHML, “I have so much more leadership to provide in this community.” “There’s a huge desire for change and for fresh faces and new voices at City Hall. And I want to be that.” Loomis emphasized his experience and experiences during the past nine years leading the Chamber.
Bill Kelly asked, “do we need improvement change for the sake of change?” Loomis quickly responded, “Yeah, we need change for improvement. That’s for sure.”
They were not part of today’s campaign. Change, bridging divides, leadership, change.
That’s the candidate’s message today.
The candidate was not the only speaker today.
People on the left and centre-left of the political spectrum engaged in the campaign, and they discussed character. On Twitter, a few people wrote critically of the positions advanced by the Chamber of Commerce under Loomis’ leadership.
Winnipeg 2014, could it happen in Hamilton?
Winnipeg is as close to a twin city as Hamilton has within Canada. Winnipeg is a city with similar geographical, socio-economic, and land use divides.
The Red River and Assiniboine River serve much as our Niagara Escarpment escarpment and rivers valleys do, geographically creating distinct clear neighbourhoods of interest. There are large socio-economic disparities. Winnipeg’s mayor must navigate the challenge of an urban core versus a suburban dynamic.
In 2014, Winnipeggers were “galvanized by an opportunity to elect a new mayor – the highly unpopular incumbent, Sam Katz, had chosen not to run – and to shake up City Council. with their unpopular mayor,” is how University of Winnipeg associate professor Aaron A. Moore describes the dynamic entering the municipal election.
In Winnipeg, there was a clear media-declared front runner, former NDP MLA, provincial cabinet minister, and MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
Lawyer Brian Bowman entered the mayoral race as a political newcomer. He focused his campaign upon a message of change and his experience as a former chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.
Lawyer, Chamber of Commerce, sound familiar yet?
Keanin Loomis is, of course, a lawyer by training, running on his Chamber experience.
Bowman’s 2014 campaign outlined a clear vision, built excitement for his campaign, and Winnipegger’s turned out to vote in record number.
Turnout increased to 50.23%. Bowman, the political newcomer, won with 47.57% of the vote. Wasylycia-Leis was left a distant second at 24.92%.
As for the ward councillor races, voters unseated three incumbents. The ward races are another election blog post for a later date.
Looking forward to the coverage!
For the left, I’ve heard rumours of a well known Hamilton activist throwing their hat in the mayoral ring. Should be a race to watch.