Though he is no longer leader of the Conservative Party or Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Andrew Scheer says he plans to stay on as an MP and run in the next election. If he follows through, he’ll join a short list of past party leaders who have decided to prolong their parliamentary careers after giving up one of the top political jobs in the country.
On Sunday, Scheer told reporters that he will run for his seventh consecutive term as the MP for the Saskatchewan riding of Regina–Qu’Appelle, which he has represented since 2004.
That is already a long time to have served in office. Most past leaders who have resigned their positions as prime ministers or Official Opposition leaders while still holding a seat in the House haven’t attempted re-election, putting Scheer in a small minority.
Only one-third of past prime ministers or Official Opposition leaders have run for re-election after resigning their posts. Scheer will become just the eighth to do it.
It’s a largely modern phenomenon. Alexander Mackenzie, Canada’s second prime minister, stuck around after he resigned the Liberal leadership in 1880. No party leader attempted to stay in office after losing the leadership for another 70 years after that — Progressive Conservative leader John Bracken attempted re-election after stepping down as leader in 1948.
The others in whose footsteps Scheer is following include former prime ministers John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark and former opposition leaders Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Stéphane Dion.
Some of these people had long careers in Parliament after their resignations. Mackenzie stayed on as an MP for 12 more years — the longest post-leadership career to date, narrowly beating out Diefenbaker. (Diefenbaker, however, successfully attempted re-election four more times, beating Mackenzie’s record by one.)
Day and Dion also stayed on for many years after their resignations, though they had cabinet posts to keep them busy for part of the time.
Others had only brief stays in Parliament after their resignations. Manning remained as an MP for one more election and for less than two years after failing to secure the leadership of the Canadian Alliance. Bracken was defeated in the 1949 election, less than a year after he gave up his post as Official Opposition leader.
Length and success of pre-resignation career a factor
Not surprisingly, the success of a leader’s time in office appears to have played a role in determining whether a resigning leader tries to prolong it. Those who have served as Official Opposition leaders or prime ministers and have run again after resigning have averaged only 1.9 election campaigns as party leaders, compared to 2.9 election campaigns for those leaders who decide to go off into the sunset.
As is the case with Scheer, half of those leaders who stayed on after resigning lost their one and only elections as leaders. Leaders like Mackenzie and Clark stayed on after losing their second campaigns.
Diefenbaker — to whom Scheer has looked to for political inspiration — was an exception. He already had waged five campaigns as PC leader when he resigned in 1967 and he was ready for more. He was an unsuccessful candidate in the leadership race that was meant to find his replacement.
Leaders with better track records have tended to leave politics with winning legacies. Official Opposition leaders and prime ministers who did not seek re-election as MPs after resigning won about 53 per cent of the elections in which they were party leaders. Those who tried to prolong their parliamentary careers had an election-winning record of just 27 per cent.
Future political prospects for former leaders differ
A number of party leaders who never served in one of the top two offices in the land stayed on as MPs after resigning, including former NDP leaders Tommy Douglas and Alexa McDonough. After resigning as Green leader in November, Elizabeth May said she’ll seek re-election as an MP.
But the prospects for MPs in federal parties that have never been close to government are different from those enjoyed by MPs belonging to the parties that contend for power in every election — as the Conservatives can be expected to do whenever the next vote is held.
Scheer has said that he wants to be part of the team that replaces Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. If that happens, presumably he would like to be around the cabinet table in an Erin O’Toole-led Conservative government — a place he never reached during Stephen Harper’s tenure.
There’s no guarantee he will get that opportunity. Bracken lost his first post-leadership re-election bid and Mackenzie and Manning never got another chance to be in government. After a 16-year stint on the opposition benches, the PCs had only been back in office for a matter of weeks when Diefenbaker died in 1979.
That doesn’t mean Diefenbaker was idle in the meantime. He spent much of his time as an opposition MP sniping at Robert Stanfield, his successor as PC leader. He also proved to be a critic of Clark when he took over in 1976.
Others, though, had more success. Day served in a number of cabinet portfolios under Harper, including public safety and international trade and as president of the Treasury Board. Both Clark and Dion served as foreign affairs ministers; Clark held the office for most of the Brian Mulroney era. Dion served in the role for less than two years before taking an ambassadorial posting in Europe.
Clark, of course, also had a second act as PC leader in 1998.
So, there is certainly a chance that Scheer will have a second chance at a high-profile political job in the years to come.
He definitely has the time for one. At 41 years old, he is the youngest former leader to try to stay on as an MP. Clark, who had perhaps the most successful post-leadership career, was only two years older when he resigned as PC leader. The others averaged nearly 60 years old, with Diefenbaker topping the list at 72.
We haven’t seen the last of Andrew Scheer, politician. But how much more we’ll see of him will depend on the success and generosity of O’Toole as Conservative leader — and, if Scheer sticks around as long as his idol Diefenbaker did, on whoever replaces O’Toole as well.
Mitch McConnell is the apex predator of U.S. politics – The Washington Post
“I like the evil ones better,” McConnell replied, with a thin smile.
No joke. At 78, after a half-century in politics, Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. now stands at the precipice of what most Republicans only a generation or two ago would have said was impossible: conservative domination of the Supreme Court.
For McConnell, this is a personal triumph worthy of the history books. But history may record it differently. It seems probable that McConnell’s epitaph will note instead that no one since the Southern segregationists of the 1940s and 1950s did more to cripple the proper functioning of all three branches of government, not to mention faith in the very idea of one America.
Historian Rick Perlstein has long described this chapter in the American story as “Nixonland,” a jagged terrain of White racial fear and populist resentment of the federal authority that began in the mid-1960s. But while GOP presidents from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump have tilled that soil when it suited their purposes, McConnell has been, over the years, its most constant gardener, mixing arcane, cynically hypocritical legislative procedure and judicial appointments to turn emotion into lasting policy.
He has jammed hundreds of conservative judges onto the federal bench, making it younger, Whiter and more male — and far more partisan — in the process. In concert with the Federalist Society, McConnell is transforming the federal judiciary from sometimes-defenders of the poor, immigrants and people of color into the Praetorian Guard of corporations, the wealthy, and those whose cultural and racial privileges make them, at best, oblivious to their collective responsibility to all Americans. At the same time, McConnell is standing in the schoolhouse door of dozens if not hundreds of pieces of needed legislation, rendering the “world’s greatest deliberative body” an empty pantomime of itself.
And if he succeeds in forcing another pliable justice onto the Supreme Court, he may prove responsible for undercutting whatever legitimacy a possibly disputed presidential election might have if, as many suspect, it must be settled by that court. One reason to move fast and give the court a 6-3 conservative majority? To take the relatively independent (and therefore unreliable) Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. out of the equation.
McConnell has been around so long people think they know him. But they don’t, and that is by design. When you are the apex predator of U.S. politics, you don’t really care what anyone thinks. In Kentucky, where I worked for six years as McConnell was beginning his rise, he is not so much loved as endured. People talk about him like the rainy Ohio River Valley weather: It’s a pain, but it waters the crops. He retains an iron grip on state politics, has been elected statewide six times and is likely to win a seventh term in November. Democrats are pouring millions into defeating him. It’s not a great bet.
McConnell, reduced to his essence, is a state party chairman on steroids. His eye for detail, and his feral sense of approaching threats, is total. In the summer of 1968, working for a U.S. Senate candidate that year, he traveled the state from Pikeville to Paducah with another young Republican, Jon Yarmuth, now the Democratic member of the U.S. House representing Louisville. After work, as they hunkered down at yet another rural motel, Yarmuth would suggest that they go out for a drink. Mitch would have none of it. “What he wanted to do was sit in the room,” Yarmuth recalled, “and read every report and statistic about the county.”
His granular focus on local matters derives in part from the fact that McConnell isn’t Kentucky-bred. He was born in North Alabama and spent his childhood there and in Georgia before moving to Louisville as a teen. He and his family lived in the city’s South End, where newcomers from the Deep South settled in a city whose moneyed ruling class saw itself as tweed-clad country cousins of the Eastern elite. McConnell absorbed the middle-class resentments of his neighborhood.
From boyhood on, he pursued every title he could find: high school student council president; college student president, law school bar association president, state president of the Ripon Society and so on, up the ziggurat of perches and entitlements, all the way to Senate majority leader.
These days he pitches himself to historians as the heir to the godfather of distributed power, James Madison. McConnell has a point, in one sense. The contrapuntal effect of the federal courts is valuable, even indispensable; a piece of Newtonian balance that the founders knew was important. But McConnell is not interested in balance: He is interested only in total dominance, and in a bulwark against change, whatever the cost to the country.
Why Supreme Court politics in 2020 look way different from 2016 or 2018 – CNN
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