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Bob Richardson (with bag over his head), Gord Brown, Jim Watson, James Villeneuve and Warren Kinsella ham it up at the 1990 Varsity Cup.

Thirty years ago, five young men formed a bond based on a love of politics, the thrill of the campaign and a view that public service was a worthy pursuit.

In their late teens and early 20s then, Jim Watson, Bob Richardson, Gord Brown, Warren Kinsella and James Villeneuve ran student government and politics at Carleton University - and now it has come full circle as, on Monday, one of them may just become mayor of Ottawa, the city where this band of brothers started out.

Now in their late 40s and early 50s, some with families and children, a couple of them separated or still single, they've broadened their reach and connections.

They are still close friends, still involved in politics and still in search of that next campaign.

Meet the boys:

Jim Watson, 49

Then: Mr. Watson graduated from Carleton University with his BA in mass communications in 1983. He and Warren Kinsella met on the first day of classes. Mr. Kinsella says they were drawn to each other as the "two big mouths" in the class. Mr. Watson's first successful campaign was as residence food services co-ordinator, and met Gord Brown while visiting his residence floor and campaigning on the platform: "The food sucks." Mr. Watson later became president of the residence association.

Now: The latest polls show him with a commanding lead going into Monday's election for mayor of Ottawa. Most recently, he was a cabinet minister in Dalton McGuinty's Ontario Liberal government, and did an earlier stint as Ottawa mayor before it was amalgamated with the surrounding municipalities in 2001. He keeps in touch with all of the boys, but is closest to Mr. Richardson, who recently held a fundraiser for him in Toronto at James Villeneuve's company's brewery. He is single.

Bob Richardson, 49

Then: He met Mr. Watson in residence and went on to become his vice-president when Mr. Watson was residence association president. He graduated from Carleton in 1984 with a BA in political science. Unlike his friends, Mr. Richardson remains in the backrooms. One of the Liberals in the group, he left Ottawa for Queen's Park, working at one time as Lynn McLeod's executive assistant when she was party leader. He and James Villeneuve were key members of the team that helped get Mel Lastman elected mayor of Toronto in 1997. Later, the two were principals in Toronto's unsuccessful bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Now: He is president of the Devon Group, a public relations firm in Toronto, and chairman of Red Leaf (communication arm of the federal Liberal Party for the coming election). He was one of the leaders of Toronto's successful bid for the 2015 Pan American Games. He is credited with giving Mr. Watson (who had worked for the Mulroney Tories) the idea of running for the McGuinty Liberals. "We stick together because we actually like each other, have fun and don't take ourselves too seriously," he says of his friends. He is single.

Gord Brown, 50

Then: Mr. Brown met Mr. Watson and Mr. Richardson in residence. He later served on the Carleton University student council - the right winger among the lefties. There he met Warren Kinsella and James Villeneuve. The three tried to shake up the student body, believing it was too far left - their proposal to make Carleton a "communism-free zone" was defeated by one vote. After graduating in 1983 with a BA in political science, he and James Villeneuve were the key youth organizers on Frank Miller's successful campaign for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. Mr. Brown is a hotel and restaurant owner in Gananoque, Ont., and served as a municipal councillor. In 2000, he tried his hand at federal politics, running unsuccessfully for the Canadian Alliance in the Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville.

Now: Mr. Brown was elected Conservative MP for Leeds-Grenville in 2004; he is a member of the industry committee and co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Association. Mr. Brown keeps in regular touch with his buddies and has worked with them on various issues. Mr. Brown has a nine-year-old son.

Warren Kinsella, 50

Then: He was the president of the Carleton University Students Association when Jim Watson was the president of the residence association. Mr. Kinsella graduated in 1984 with a bachelor of journalism. A former journalist, lawyer and author, Mr. Kinsella worked in opposition and government for Jean Chrétien. He is known for his aggressive campaign tactics. In the 1990s, he and James Villeneuve helped out on B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell's bid to become premier. In 1997, he ran unsuccessfully in B.C. for the Chrétien Liberals.

Now: Mr. Kinsella runs a consulting and communications company in Toronto, Daisy Consulting Group. He was most recently a principal in Rocco Rossi's campaign for Toronto mayor. Mr. Rossi has now dropped out. He still contributes to Mr. Brown's Conservative campaigns. About his buddies he says, "We don't always agree about everything, but they are among my best friends ... I would do anything for them." Mr. Kinsella is separated; he has four children, ranging in age from 15 to 9.

James Villeneuve, 48

Then: Running on the "no-name" ticket, he and Mr. Kinsella were elected vice-president and president of Carleton University student association. Mr. Villeneuve graduated in 1984 with a BA in political science. Throughout the years, he has teamed up with Mr. Richardson and Mr. Brown on various campaigns, some more successful than others.

Now: Mr. Villeneuve is a senior executive at Anheuser Busch in St. Louis. He is on the 10-person executive team and runs all of the company's government and media for the Americas. It's been harder for him to keep in touch with his friends as he has been living out of the country for the past four years - in Belgium and now in the United States. Still, he has helped raise money for Mr. Watson's mayoral bid. At the Vancouver Winter Olympics, his company ran the wildly popular Club Bud venue and he hung out with Mr. Richardson and Mr. Brown, who both attended part of the Games. He is married with two children, 12 and 10.