Not even Adrian Dix knows who will be his most dangerous opponent in the 2013 election
Earlier this year, NDP Leader Adrian Dix told the Straight that he wasn't making any assumptions about who his chief opponent would be in the next provincial election.
Dix said that the NDP's strategy is to "earn" as many votes as possible, rather than relying on favourable splits to help them win the next election. That's because he doesn't believe a B.C. Conservative's second choice is necessarily B.C. Liberal, or vice-versa.
At the time, he harkened back to the 1991 campaign, when everyone believed that then-NDP leader Mike Harcourt's foremost adversary would be then-premier Rita Johnston, who headed the Social Credit Party.
But out of nowhere, Gordon Wilson of the B.C. Liberals captured the public's attention and, for a brief while before the election, was leading in the polls. Wilson was taking votes from both sides of the political spectrum.
The NDP responded by recalibrating its advertising and marketing messages to beat back Wilson's late charge.
A similar thing happened in the last federal election. The Conservatives under Stephen Harper focused their fire on then-Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
Little did they expect that the NDP's Jack Layton would cause an orange wave across Quebec. Near the end of the campaign, the Conservatives launched attacks on Layton to stem his party's momentum.
This weekend, the B.C. Conservatives are holding a convention, which could lead to a putsch against the leader, John Cummins.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Liberals have recruited the "star" B.C. Conservative candidate in the Chilliwack-Hope by-election, criminologist John Martin (if coming third can ever be equated to being a star).
The B.C. Liberals have opened up some room between themselves and the B.C. Conservatives in recent polls, causing some to conclude that Dix's most significant opponent in the next election will be the premier, Christy Clark.
I'm not so sure this will be the case. B.C. is, by nature, a very conservative province. Just witness how well Reform, Canadian Alliance, and federal Conservative candidates have done since 1993.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Liberal brand appears to be battered beyond repair. That's largely because Clark didn't go nearly far enough to disentangle herself from the policies and governing style of her predecessor, Gordon Campbell.
If some B.C. Conservatives are gunning for Cummins, it's probably because they have a preferred new standard bearer (Stockwell Day?) waiting in the wings.
Dix has been a keen student of B.C. politics since childhood. In light of recent history, it's wise of him and his party not to bet the farm that Clark will be the politician they should be most worried about in 2013. She may be showing a bit of momentum now, but she's still carrying the weight of the government's record on her shoulders going into a provincial campaign.