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Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte riding 'one to watch:' political analyst

Voters will head to the polls on Thursday to cast their ballots in the provincial election, and across the region, one riding stands out for political analyst Michael Johns.

The riding of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte "is one to watch" and has traditionally swayed blue.

"Federally, it was one of the ridings that, at one point, was very, very close," Johns said while noting the focus is on the Conservative and Liberal candidates.

"What is going to be interesting about that riding is that you have the two front-running candidates [who] have a lot of name recognition, and that isn't normally the case."

Liberal candidate and longtime Barrie mayor Jeff Lehman aims to take the riding and paint it red.

Best known for his time as the head of city council, Lehman sailed into his third term as Barrie's mayor in 2018 by a landslide, a feat he also achieved during his initial re-election in 2014, when he became the city's first mayor to capture a back-to-back win in the 21st century.

However, this election may prove to be more difficult for Lehman as incumbent Doug Downey seeks a second term.

Downey has plans to hold the riding for the Progressive Conservative party come Thursday.

In 2018, he was appointed as the riding's candidate by Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford and serves as Ontario's attorney general.

Also on the ballot are Beverly Patchell with the NDP, Elyse Robinson with the Green Party, Gerry Auger with the Ontario Party, and Hayden Hughes with the New Blue party.

Meanwhile, Johns noted the passive campaigning between party leaders.

"This has been a very, very quiet election. None of the parties have really been able to capture the imagination of the public, and therefore, there hasn't been an issue that sort of really dominated."

Voters will cast their ballots on June 2.

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