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Senator Keith Davey, known as 'The Rainmaker' for his work running Liberal campaigns, reminicises with friends outside Notre-Dame Basillica at the beginning of the state funeral former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in Montreal on Oct. 3, 2000. (FRED CHARTRAND/CP)
Senator Keith Davey, known as 'The Rainmaker' for his work running Liberal campaigns, reminicises with friends outside Notre-Dame Basillica at the beginning of the state funeral former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau in Montreal on Oct. 3, 2000. (FRED CHARTRAND/CP)

Andrew Steele

Farewell, Rainmaker Add to ...

Keith Davey was one of the first people I met in politics; fittingly it was at The Senator restaurant in Toronto.

I had read a lot about politics, but not been involved much. Now, I wanted to make a difference. A friend of my father's knew Senator Davey and offered to make an introduction.

Sen. Davey started in politics as a young activist attempting to revive a moribund Liberal Party in the aftermath of Diefenbaker's smashing win of 1958.

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He went on to be the Liberal campaign director in 1962, 1963, and 1965, and the campaign co-chairman for 1974, 1979 and 1980. He was brought back to attempt to revive the Liberal campaign in 1984.

But more than titles, Keith Davey can be summed up in one word: positivity. The guy was a relentless optimist, and the kind of natural networker who attracts the best.

I was inexperienced enough to politics to not be awed to meet this legend for the first time. But I was very impressed.

The reason wasn't some brilliant strategy or bon mot that fell from Sen. Davey's mouth. He was pleasant and thoughtful, but we kept things pretty light.

Instead it was his basic advice: Work and win.

Elections aren't won by some blinding insight or sophisticated technique. These are baubles that amuse reporters and academics.

They are won through the hard work of thousands of people. Whichever team works smartest and hardest will win. So if you want to make a difference in politics, find a place to put your shoulder and push.

For someone who had read too much and knocked on doors too little, it was refreshing advice. Shortly after that, I was working on my first campaign.

Having found a place to put my shoulder, I've been pushing ever since, thanks to Keith Davey.

My heart goes out to his amazing wife, Dorothy, who is a political legend in her own right, and all of Sen. Davey's family for their loss.

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