I won’t pretend I’m close friends with Simon Lono. In fact, until the 2005 municipal election I’m not sure I ever recall hearing of him before, although given his stints in Liberal governments I’m sure I must have. In all likelihood I probably cursed on him at some point.
But over the past few years I’ve gotten to know him a little bit. Both through his very well written blog and that he’s been over for supper in out apartment in Iqaluit. Simon does some work putting together the hansard for the territorial government up here. I found him to be nothing less than a nice, exceptionally intelligent man. And hell, he even watched the Brier final with me and put up with all of my cursing when Brad Gushue fucked up that shot in the 6th end (Still not over it, still pretty bitter).
So I’m happy to see he’s running for the Liberals in St. John’s North. People of high intelligence with a willingness to try and make positive change are always welcome into politics. So I wish him the best of luck in what is sure to be a completely insane six weeks until the provincial election happens in October.
You also have to admire the courage. Or the insanity. St. John’s is pretty Tory blue under the best of circumstances. With Williams polling at levels that makes you wonder if the water supply has been contaminated with some kind of mild altering drugs, running for the Liberals in St. John’s is a little akin to running face first into a wall. It takes some balls.
So with a city that tends to vote Tory, a Tory premier whose personal popularity is polling around 70 per cent or higher and a Liberal party that doesn’t appear to be able to find its ass with both hands, a mirror, GPS and Google Maps, what does Simon having going for him?
Well, his party might be in shambles, but he’s a good guy and good candidate. That does count for something. As proven by his municipal run several years ago, he’s good at running a campaign that draws attention and has little money for traditional advertising. Also, I don’t think Bob Ridgley is exactly a powerhouse incumbent. If I recall from the ’03 election, he wasn’t the first choice for the Tories to run in that seat. Given Simon’s debating skills, a debate between him and Ridgley would be vastly amusing, I suspect.
Do I have any advice? Well, I imagine he knows better, but if I recall there are a lot of Pentecostals in that district, and they vote (at least they certainly did for Lloyd Matthews), so try to be nice to them.
Also, a lot of post-secondary students live in that riding. Some of them are going to vote in their home district, but many will vote in St. John’s North. So educational issues will play a big role. I suspect Simon is already out ahead on that, having come out and opposed to making Grenfell into a separate university.
I wish him the best of luck. If this was simply candidate against candidate, then I think he would have an excellent chance. It is, however, party politics. Ridgley has wide, velvet coattails to ride on. Lono has a ball and chain. It’s going to be a hard fight.