Challengers weigh in on Stone as Liberal flag-bearer
He was praised by the premier before he was even officially running for the B.C. Liberal nomination in Kamloops-South Thompson — but could Todd Stone’s close ties to Premier Christy Clark be an advantage for his opponent?
"Clearly, Todd Stone has been hand-picked by the premier to run in this constituency," said Tom Friedman, the B.C. NDP candidate for the riding.
"I think he's going to have to wear a lot of her unpopularity."
Friedman said he doesn't buy the argument that a new face in the riding will allow the Liberals to move the conversation away from controversies like the HST in the months leading up to the election.
"Todd Stone will be a formidable candidate. However, he's going to have to be defending a series of government policies over the last decade that have really led to a lot of dissatisfaction among voters," Friedman said.
"I think it's more like out with the old and in with the old. He's obviously going to have a really difficult time defending what's been a lot of mismanagement."
While voters in Kamloops-South Thompson voted B.C. Liberal by a greater margin than in Kamloops-North Thompson in the last election, and while the south riding is generally seen as the safer seat for the party, Friedman said he thinks that's starting to shift.
"I've been meeting with a lot of people in the constituency and I've had a very positive reception from people I've spoken to," he said.
"And, I think they want a change."
The B.C. Conservatives, meanwhile, are getting closer to selecting their candidates for both Kamloops ridings.
Regional director Alan Forseth said the Kamloops-North Thompson Conservatives are in the process of setting up a committee to hunt for a candidate and oversee a nomination meeting, while Kamloops-South Thompson Conservatives have been working on their own nomination process for about a month.
Forseth said the south riding association should announce candidates by the end of the summer.
"We're quite confident we'll have a good candidate in place that will present the message of the B.C. Conservatives — smaller government and common sense," he said, adding he believes the political momentum is on his party's side.
"I don't think it will be too much longer until we eclipse the B.C. Liberal Party in the polls. It's looking well for us, I believe, and the momentum is just continuing to grow for us."