Senator, federal Liberal organizer, and former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell has thrown his support behind park board commissioner Allan De Genova, who has given indications that he will seek a Vision Vancouver mayoral nomination.
“I support him,” Campbell, COPE mayor from 2002 to 2005, told the Georgia Straight. “I think it will come down to a race between [NDP MLA] Gregor Robertson, [Coun.] Raymond Louie, and Al De Genova. I support Al at this point, as I believe he is the one with the experience after the disaster we have seen these past three years.”
De Genova is a five-term commissioner and was top vote getter on the 2005 park board ballot, with 59,961 votes, before leaving the ruling NPA in 2006. He announced his mayoral intentions to CBC Radio on February 5. Campbell spoke to the Straight via cellphone while on a bus in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Liberal senator was attending a First Nations conference as part of his work with the Senate aboriginal committee.
By pumping De Genova’s mayoral bid, Campbell also deflates Louie’s balloon, following many pronouncements over the years that he is a fan of the two-term councillor.
“I am still a fan of Raymond Louie,” Campbell confirmed. “There is no question he will be mayor someday, no question. And I have always been very public about that. But in this case, I support Al. Now, if the membership decides otherwise, I will support whoever they decide to put forward.”
De Genova told the Straight he is feeling a little “overwhelmed” at the response to his announcement, but the 51-year-old said he is serious about angling for the city’s top job.
“If I become party leader at Vision Vancouver and mayor of this city, the citizens of Vancouver will never have seen anything like it,” he said by phone. “We will have the most livable city in the world.”
Mayor Sam Sullivan is the person who called for the expulsion of De Genova from the NPA caucus in May 2006. Shortly before that, leading up to the 2005 election, De Genova’s daughter Melissa rallied the youth vote for then–NPA councillor Sullivan’s own mayoral bid, helping ensure that he survived what he called the “political tsunami” of former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Christy Clark. (Melissa is now seeking a park board nomination on the Vision slate.)
Sullivan did not return a message by Straight deadline.
De Genova called Campbell’s endorsement “very kind”.
“But I’m not seeking endorsements and calling 1-800-ENDORSE,” De Genova said. “I have talked to a lot of people, and you will know a lot of names in this town, that have come forward to endorse me. Some of them are big powerhouses on the business side and the social side of the spectrum. But you know what? I don’t want that right now. I need to run on my record: 15 years of caring about this community and dealing [with issues] at all levels.”
De Genova noted that he has worked with other political parties before, including on the COPE-dominated park board of 2002 to 2005, when he and NPA councillor Suzanne Anton were the lone NPA voices at the table.
He said he will announce his mayoral bid officially later this month once “nomination programs” are set up.
Lone COPE councillor David Cadman has still not ruled out his own mayoral run, but he has always said it must be as part of a united slate and campaign agreed to by both COPE and Vision membership. But Cadman is suspicious, adding that voters should not forget De Genova’s 18 years in the NPA ranks.
“I think we all know who Al is: he is the guy who ran the machine that got Sam elected and then got booted out of the NPA by Sam and his cronies,” Cadman said by phone. “So now he is seeking a new home in Vision. So I guess what Vision has to decide is do they want to work on the progressive side of the spectrum to elect a progressive mayor, or do they want to nominate somebody who very clearly is of the NPA—and would be there if not kicked out—and try and replace the NPA as the centre-right party?”