Hurricane Hughie had destroyed what was left of the party's credibility.
The caucus was last spotted in the Legislature parking lot begging for rescue.
And as for "leader" Stu Murray---well, it wasn't pretty.
Like the pitcher who gave up a bases loaded home run, Murray could only stare at his shoes and hope he still had a job when he got back to the bullpen.
Barely a week after taking a public bitchslapping from Liberal MP and master batter Reg Alcock, Murray's future looks bleaker by the minute.
First, he had to watch Alcock dance away with his fair-weather colleague John Loewen, leaving a big hole in the Tory ranks. Conservative MPs Steven Fletcher and Brian Pallister immediately picked up the gauntlet and forcefully challenged Loewen's new found conversion to Liberalism. Murray's idea of crisis leadership was to blow Loewen kisses and proclaim they were still friends.
But Friday he proved he has no political instincts left.
Hugh McFadyen, who left Sam Katz's office to prepare for a run against Alcock in the coming federal election, announced he had decided to run for election in Loewen's former riding instead. Only one problem --- there was already somebody with dibs on that riding and that was Rod Bruinooge, the man McFadyen defeated to run in Alcock's riding.
And Stuart Murray was letting him, thereby giving Reg Alcock the biggest laugh of his political career.
In one fell swoop he had managed, with Stu Murray's help, to get front page headlines for stealing a star candidate right under Murray's nose, to eliminate another star candidate prepared to run against him, to humiliate the last candidate who ran against him (Bruinooge), and to throw the local Conservative Party into disarray. Grand Slam.And as for McFadyen, that veteran of 16 election campaigns according to his bio, he demonstrated that, if Stu Murray has no political instincts, he has even less.
And we're not talking about his promotion of rich-girl-slumming and Tory turncoat Belinda Stronach for federal Conservative Party leader in 2004.
When he thought Reg Alcock and the Liberals were fatally wounded by the Adscam revelations, he decided he was the Golden Boy who deserved to take Alcock's seat. So he ran against Bruinooge for the nomination despite the fact Bruinooge had earned more votes for the Conservatives than any previous candidate in that riding in the previous election. No, McFadyen was the anointed one and he deserved to go to Ottawa.
But when the Liberals survived the worst (or so it seemed until the latest polls came out) McFadyen lost interest and, will wonders never cease, another opportunity turned up. Except that Bruinooge, having lost the nomination, had already declared his candidacy for Loewen's old seat. But, did we mention McFadyen is the anointed one.
And Bruinooge? Who's he?
Okay, so he's a young Conservative, an aboriginal, to boot, a film maker, and an entrepreneur (he was director of the International Film Festival in Winnipeg in June).
Does that make him a prize catch?
You bet it does. Everyone knows it, except the leader of the party and his new candidate.
When we heard the news today, we debated how to describe the Tory Party in Manitoba.