Glen Murray, MPP for the Toronto Centre riding, has dropped out of the Ontario Liberal leadership race, leaving six other hopefuls in contention.
In the fall, Murray resigned from his position as minister of training, colleges and universities in order to run. He was the first to announce candidacy after former Premier Dalton McGuinty resigned.
“He got out because he didn’t want to be embarrassed,” explained Barry Kay, a political analyst and professor at Wilfrid Laurier University acknowledging that Murray likely wouldn’t have won.
Kay went on to explain that some of the candidates are in the race for more symbolic than literal reasons. He expressed that some enter the race with an awareness that they may not succeed in order to gain the “support of a significant amount of people in the party that will position them for the future” by contributing to their political reputation.
In response to the fact that Murray is now endorsing a leading candidate, Kathleen Wynne, Kay said that the support obviously doesn’t hurt, but he isn’t sure that it’s going to make a huge difference in terms of what actually happens.
John Milloy, MPP for the Kitchener Centre, expressed his thoughts on Murray’s recent drop out.
“I think he did a great job, had some great ideas, and I think he should be proud in the leadership contest,” Milloy said. “It’s his right of course to drop out and support Kathleen Wynne.”
Out of the six remaining candidates, Wynne and Sandra Pupatello are currently in the lead. Last weekend’s delegate voting showed Pupatello leading with 27 per cent support and Wynne trailing slightly in second with 25 per cent.
While Kay acknowledged that current polls are pointing toward a female leader for the party, “the key element is going to be what happens in terms of second ballot support from others.”
He also identified that image could play a role in how votes are cast during the next provincial election, which could impact the selection of the Liberal leader.
“In terms of the next election, the way most Ontarians are going to decide on the way they vote in the next election, and we might have one in a few months, is the way they look on television,” he commented.
While this isn’t the single determining factor to political success, it may play a role in the decision made by less informed voters.
“Are liberal activists going to be more concerned with the person they like the best based on their policies and intellect, or are they going to be motivated by who they think has the best chance of winning the next election?” Kay questioned.
Glen Murray was unavailable for comment.
The Ontario Liberal leadership convention will take place during the weekend of Jan. 25.