Limerick City: Good vote management will aid Power's struggle
HE'S heard the "dead man walking" tag, but doesn't agree with it.
Fianna Fail Junior Minister Peter Power is facing a major struggle to hold his seat in the new Limerick City constituency.
A redrawing of the Limerick constituencies since the last election saw the rural parts of Limerick East transfer to Limerick West, which was renamed County Limerick.
Limerick East became Limerick City, and drops from five to four seats for the 2011 General Election.
In the city, FF's Willie O'Dea -- one of the biggest vote-getters in the country -- is regarded as safe, and Fine Gael's Michael Noonan and Labour's Jan O'Sullivan are both expected to hold on.
The battle for the fourth and final seat will probably be between the other two TDs, with Mr Power scrapping with FG's Kieran O'Donnell at a time when Fianna Fail is facing a drubbing.
"I really see it as a fight between myself and Kieran O'Donnell," Mr Power said yesterday. "This is one of the constituencies where Fianna Fail has a chance of winning two seats."
One of the keys to this constituency will be tight vote management of Mr O'Dea's traditionally massive vote, although the former defence minister is known for closely guarding his patch.
In 2007, Mr O'Dea had one of the highest first preference votes in the country -- 19,092, over twice the quota of 8,230.
Although he will lose some of that as FF nosedives, Mr Power, first elected in 2002, is hoping the vote can be shared more equally this time around.
"We're saying to people who supported either myself or Willie to split the vote more effectively -- I have no doubt we can get two seats if we do that.
"Willie has been a TD for 28 years, and he's built up a massive following whereas I'm a relatively new TD.
"Without doubt some of Willie's vote is a personal vote. We're telling people to balance our vote more strategically."
Mr Power was elected on the second count in 2007, after the transfer of Mr O'Dea's surplus. And he says they can sense the second seat again: "It's definitely something we can sniff and it's making us work harder."
Mr Power was recently promoted to the FF frontbench by Micheal Martin, although he says this is having little effect on the ground.
But he says traditional party voters are coming back since Mr Martin took over as leader.
"The Micheal Martin effect is making a difference to traditional Fianna Fail voters, the people who would have said to me three or four weeks ago they might have voted for me, but weren't sure. Those voters who were on the line are greatly encouraged by his start as leader."
Willie O’Dea TD
Peter Power TD
Michael Noonan TD
Kieran O’Donnell TD
Jan O’Sullivan TD
Cllr Joe Leddin
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan
Last time out
Willie O’Dea topped the poll with one of the highest first preference votes in the country – 19,092, over twice the quota of 8,230. Mr O’Dea also had almost 12,000 first preferences over nearest rival Michael Noonan.
The Progressive Democrat’s Tim O’Malley lost his seat as the PDs were wiped out. At the 2002 General Election, Mr O’Malley won the seat vacated by his cousin and party founder, Des O’Malley.
VOTERS PER TD 15,984