Brian Topp has lifted a key player in the entourage of former leader Jack Layton to become the senior organizer of his NDP leadership campaign.
In a news release on Friday, Mr. Topp announced the appointment of Raymond Guardia as his national campaign director. In order to join Mr. Topp's team, Mr. Guardia is stepping aside from his current position as senior adviser on Quebec in the office of Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel.
Mr. Guardia was a key player the office of Mr. Layton, who died last August, helping the party make a breakthrough in Quebec as the province's campaign director in the last election.
"Mr. Guardia is one of the most effective and successful campaign managers in our party. He played the key role in our May 2011 victory and was the architect of the Orange Crush in Quebec. I'm delighted to have his support and his help," Mr. Topp said.
Mr. Guardia's decision to join the team of Mr. Topp can be seen as another hit to the still-undeclared candidacy of NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair, who is expected to officially launch his bid next week.
Mr. Guardia managed the NDP's by-election campaign in 2007 that first saw Mr. Mulcair enter the House of Commons.
Ian Capstick, a former NDP staffer and current media consultant, said that Mr. Guardia is a great catch for Mr. Topp's team. "Ray is one of the central architects of the NDP's long term Quebec success," he said.
However, Mr. Capstick cautioned that Mr. Guardia's roots are in his home province, and that he will need to gain a better sense of the entire country to help Mr. Topp achieve his goal.
"He's not steeped in Ottawa or national federal politics, but rather in Quebec federal politics," Mr. Capstick said.
Mr. Topp is slowly unveiling his campaign team and his major supporters in the NDP caucus. He is set to announce that he has received the support of B.C. MPs Jean Crowder and Kennedy Stewart, two days after receiving an endorsement from MP Alexandre Boulerice earlier this week.
The former party president has already won the support of former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, prompting a Mulcair supporter, MP Tarik Brahmi, to state that Mr. Topp is the candidate of the NDP "apparatchik."