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Poilievre camp says they’ve sold memberships in every riding, hinting at broad appeal

Click to play video: 'Can Pierre Poilievre’s populist pitch for Conservative Party Leadership translate to GTA gains?' Can Pierre Poilievre’s populist pitch for Conservative Party Leadership translate to GTA gains?
WATCH: Conservative Party leadership contender Pierre Poilivre is holding a Tuesday rally in downtown Toronto. As the race continues, observers say the populist’s message shouldn’t be discounted, even in a Liberal stronghold. Matthew Bingley reports. – Apr 19, 2022

Pierre Poilievre’s camp is claiming to have sold memberships in all 338 federal ridings, hinting at broader appeal across the Conservative base than the former cabinet minister might be expected to pull.

The Poilievre campaign refused to give specific numbers, but said on Tuesday they had managed to sell memberships — which means eligible voters in the Conservative leadership contest — in every federal riding across the country.

That suggests Poilievre is drawing from a larger pool of support than many political observers have expected. The former cabinet minister, who has been a MP since age 25, was widely thought to have his support concentrated in the Conservative heartland of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Read more: Poilievre camp raises concerns over membership ‘fraud’ in Conservative race

According to Ginny Roth, a spokesperson for the Poilievre campaign, some 46,000 people have RSVP’d to Poilievre’s events as the leadership candidate criss-crosses the country. The perceived front-runner has been drawing massive crowds for his stump speech, with the kind of energy reminiscent of Justin Trudeau’s takeover of the Liberal Party in 2013.

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The crowds and the noise are one thing, however. It’s another to make sure that the many Poilievre enthusiasts actually vote in the leadership, with the winner expected to be crowned on Sept. 10.

Still, it has given Poilievre’s campaign a sense of momentum — at least in the media — that other campaigns have lacked. A source close to Patrick Brown, the Brampton mayor widely seen as one of Poilievre’s main rivals, said that their campaign has been focused on selling memberships and largely ignoring, for now, the media coverage.

But for Brown to win, a source close to the Poilievre campaign estimated he would need to sign up more than 100,000 new members — and get them out to vote. The Brown campaign source said they know the number of new members they require to win, but declined to share that number with Global News.

Read more: An inside look at Patrick Brown’s pitch for selling Conservative party memberships

For context, some 175,000 Conservative members cast a ballot in the 2020 leadership race that saw Erin O’Toole replace Andrew Scheer.

Poilievre is the perceived front-runner in a crowded race to replace Erin O’Toole, who was forced out after disappointing results in the 2021 election and a subsequent caucus rebellion.

Jean Charest, the former Quebec premier and leader of the now-defunct federal Progressive Conservatives, is widely seen as his major competition. Brown is known as a grinder in conservative circles, however, and multiple sources say he’s been doing between 10 and 20 events per day and aggressively working the phone.

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Leslyn Lewis, reprising her role as the social conservative standard bearer, is also expected to have a strong showing in the leadership race, banking on the socons’ exceptional organization and motivation.

The campaigns have until June 2 to sign up new members, and the next leader will be chosen on Sept. 10.

Click to play video: 'Can a Conservative Party leadership candidate turn large crowds at rallies into votes' Can a Conservative Party leadership candidate turn large crowds at rallies into votes
Can a Conservative Party leadership candidate turn large crowds at rallies into votes – Apr 15, 2022

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