It will be a decade next year since what could have been the most legendary battle in Vancouver politics.
On one side was an incumbent mayor, a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, who captivated the world when he twirled the Olympic flag in Italy as his city prepared to host the games.
On the other side was an athletic challenger, a young provincial politician and juice maker who talks about bike lanes and the environment.
Some still talk about 2008, when then mayor Sam Sullivan had a crack at a second term and become the face of Vancouver in the Olympics that was coming in two years.
But Sullivan was denied the chance, when he was challenged and defeated for the nomination of his own party, the Non-Partisan Association (NPA).
Meanwhile, Gregor Robertson, then a B.C. MLA, went on to win the nomination of the Vision Vancouver party, and in the election that year, crushed the candidate that trounced Sullivan.
Five years later in 2013, Sullivan stepped back into the political arena, this time on the provincial level as MLA for Vancouver-False Creek.
Now on his second term, Sullivan is running for leader of the B.C. Liberal Party.
A municipal election is coming up next year, and when SFU political science professor Patrick Smith was asked what could be a good match-up in the mayoral race, the political commentator remembered Sullivan.
Smith believes that someone with a stature like Sullivan can give Robertson, now on his third term, a run for the post of city mayor.
“Here’s a thought. What would think of Sam Sullivan not winning the Liberal leadership, realizing he’s going to sit in opposition in Victoria for the next two three four years, deciding maybe life in Vancouver would be more interesting, and offering himself. That would make for an interesting race,” Smith told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
However, the SFU academic doesn’t think that Sullivan is going to return to the Vancouver civic scene as a mayoral contender.
“If I had to bet whether Sam would run for mayor again, I would say no. But he would be the kind of individual that might, you know, make a difference to the race,” Smith said.
Smith also doesn’t think that Sullivan’s old rival, former premier and ex-B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark, would do it either.
In 2005, Sullivan defeated Clark for the nomination of the NPA, and he won the mayoral race that year.
On August 4 this year, Clark stepped down as B.C. Liberal leader after her government was toppled by the B.C. NDP and Greens. Her successor will be chosen in February 2018, and Sullivan is one of the aspirants.
As for the idea of Sullivan running for Vancouver mayor in October 2018, Smith said: “I suppose you could pose it this way: would you rather be sitting in an opposition backbench in Victoria or having just lost the leadership race, run for mayor of the biggest city in the province?”
Regarding Robertson’s chances of becoming mayor again, Smith believes that the incumbent has an “excellent chance”.
“Barring another candidate with a high profile running for mayor against him [Robertson], I don’t know … If I had to put 25 cents on it right now, I’d put it on him,” Smith said.