With yesterday's predictable announcement that John Manley won't be a candidate for leader of the federal Liberal Party, I think it's becoming increasingly safe to say that this race will become a two-man fight between Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae.
Rae's already confirmed he's in, as has Dominic LeBlanc. Ignatieff is all but confirmed as in. I still have my doubts that Gerard Kennedy will run, and I haven't heard much from Martha Hall Findlay. There's talk that David McGuinty will throw his hat in the ring, but I have a feeling that most Liberals will no longer be willing to embrace third-tier candidates who want to come up the middle. We tried that last time and it clearly didn't work out.
This time, I'm sure that Ignatieff will be far and away the favourite to win. I haven't made up my mind as to who to support. I'll only say that in 2006 it seemed that Bob Rae ran a virtually flawless campaign, and openly admitted that all of his baggage was well-known. He placed a distant third. Ignatieff, on the other hand, ran a decent campaign but made serious gaffes along the way, hindering his ability to grow his support at the convention. Still he managed to grow his support from 29% to 45% of delegates by the end.
This time, I'm sure we'll see an even-better campaign from Iggy, designed to put to rest any unease some Liberals (myself included) may have with him. Despite Rae's considerable qualities, there's nothing he can do to rid himself of his NDP past. That's why Iggy will be the man to beat.