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HomeNewsColeman’s Kona contemplation a prelude to a Surrey switch?

Coleman’s Kona contemplation a prelude to a Surrey switch?

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Bob Mackin

JUNE 20 update: Two sources have told theBreaker that Coleman informed the BC Liberal caucus he is running for Mayor of Surrey. Coleman has not responded for comment. Developing…

On May 13, theBreaker reported that career politician Rich Coleman may not be back in the Legislature this fall.

The Langley East BC Liberal’s name was being polled in preparation for a potential run for the mayoralty of Surrey or Langley City this fall or as a Conservative candidate in the Cloverdale-Langley City riding in 2019.

Last week, Coleman was in Hawaii with wife Michele, enjoying “beauty, love and contemplation,” as he Tweeted on June 11. 

Rich Coleman: contemplating a run for Surrey’s mayoralty? (Twitter)

Two sources tell theBreaker that he is so seriously contemplating a run to replace Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, that he is already putting a campaign team together. Hepner won’t seek re-election this fall and her key advisor, longtime BC Liberal powerbroker Patrick Kinsella, is also a close Coleman friend. 

Coleman has found the results of pollster Greg Lyle’s research to be more than satisfying. The sources say that Coleman could hit the ground running in early July, just in time for the summertime barbecue circuit. 

The team includes Kinsella, Pace Group’s Norman Stowe and Independent Contractors and Businesses Association’s Chris Gardiner and Jordan Bateman. 

Bateman told theBreaker that there isn’t a “formal team” yet, but he would be glad to help Coleman get elected.

“Rich has been a friend for more than 20 years and if he asked me for a favour, I owe him a few,” Bateman said. 

Bateman said it is wait-and-see while Surrey First decides its candidate for mayor. 

“Once that gets sorted out, then I think Rich has more information to make his decision with,” Bateman said. 

The ex-deputy premier is 62 and has enjoyed six election victories in Langley ridings that earned him several cabinet posts during the 16-year BC Liberal dynasty, from housing to horse racing, and hooch to hydro. He is in line for an $83,000-a-year MLA pension. But, as they say, the worst day in government is better than the best day in opposition. 

Coleman broke from tradition as the interim opposition leader and endorsed Mike de Jong for February’s party leadership election. When Andrew Wilkinson won, both Coleman and de Jong were demoted from the BC Liberal shadow cabinet. 

Being Mayor of Surrey would propel Coleman back into the limelight with influence beyond the borders of Surrey, with seats on the Metro Vancouver board and TransLink Mayors’ Council. Imagine this scenario: Coleman wins the Surrey mayor’s chair and his protegé Hector Bremner follows through on a threat to start a new party and wins in Vancouver. 

Coleman’s imminent move is apparently why there is no widespread panic in the NDP about longtime MLA Leonard Krog throwing his hat in the ring for Nanaimo’s mayoralty.  Instead of one late-2018 or early-2019 by-election, there could be two by-elections in ridings that are unlikely to swing. The NDP/Green alliance’s slim, two-seat edge over the BC Liberals may just hold after all. 

Before his years as the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation’s highly effective spokesman for B.C., Bateman was a Langley Township councillor and Coleman’s riding association president. If Coleman quits the Legislature, would Bateman run in the Langley East by-election?

“No, I have an excellent job where I get to criticize the NDP for their goofy politcies, I don’t have to be an MLA to do that,” Bateman said. “I already told the party that I wouldn’t be interested.” 

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