Rich Coleman’s bid for the mayoralty of Surrey has finished before it really began.
A source told theBreaker that the ex-Deputy Premier’s campaign team disbanded July 16. Coleman had been chomping at the bit to throw his hat in the ring for the Oct. 20 vote, but the clouds of negative headlines from the casino money laundering scandal weren’t going away.
The longtime Langley MLA became the most-powerful man in the BC Liberals when Christy Clark succeeded Gordon Campbell in 2011. Opposition life was not as glamorous, so he was looking for new challenges since the NDP was sworn-in on July 18, 2017.
A source described the latest round of polling as “dismal.” Senior BC Liberals told Coleman he had too much baggage and ought not make it worse for himself and the party by running for the the top job in B.C.’s second-biggest city.
Coleman has been the target of widespread criticism since the June 27 release of Peter German’s report on money laundering in B.C. casinos. It only intensified with last week’s sensational interview that retired RCMP officer Fred Pinnock gave to Global TV.
Jordan Bateman, who was acting as an advisor to Coleman, denied that polling was a factor and said that feedback remained positive.
“It was still his race to lose,” Bateman said. “The Peter German stuff had not diminished his lead. He was weighing out whether he had the energy to go through another messy race in Surrey.”
Bateman said 63-year-old Coleman is remaining an MLA, but pondering his future as a politician. “He’s kinda coming to the point of view that he might be finishing up his career in politics, we’ll wait and see. His family wanted him around more, and decided to take a pass on Surrey.” (Bateman, a former Langley Township councillor, also denied he is pondering a run for office.)
Pinnock, who is romantically linked to the 2017-defeated North Vancouver BC Liberal Naomi Yamamoto, had spoken at length with Sean Holman after Coleman disbanded the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team in 2009.
The squad that Pinnock commanded warned that organized crime had infiltrated B.C. casinos. Coleman, the solicitor general and minister in charge of gambling promotion and regulation, pulled the plug anyway.
Pinnock told reporter John Hua “fault lies at the feet of the BC Liberals while they were in government and senior management of the RCMP in this province.”
Coleman’s team included his longtime associate, lobbyist Patrick Kinsella. Kinsella was the mastermind behind Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark campaigns who, more recently, became a key advisor to outgoing Surrey First Mayor Linda Hepner. A source told theBreaker that Kinsella has also been involved in Surrey First Coun. Tom Gill’s mayoral campaign.
That wouldn’t be the first time that Kinsella worked both sides of the street. Evidence emerged from the B.C. Supreme Court trial of ex-BC Liberal aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk that Kinsella had been working for both BC Rail and its eventual buyer, CN Rail.
Meanwhile, more drama in Surrey.
Coun. Barb Steele became the second incumbent to quit Surrey First. She will run for an eighth term alongside Coun. Bruce Hayne. Hayne quit the ruling party in June, citing integrity issues.
“I joined Surrey First because I believed in the work, the values and the vision of my friend and colleague Dianne Watts,” Steele said in a prepared statement. “This is no longer the party that represents the ideals we began with, and in good conscience I can’t be part of it.”
And, if that is not enough, Doug McCallum wants to make a comeback as mayor.
McCallum was mayor from 1996 to 2005. He lost in 2014 by 20,000 votes to Watts’s succcessor, Hepner.
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