AS she enters her second year in power, Premier Christy Clark appears to be headed for one of two destinies: she will either be the Comeback Kid, or the second coming of Rita Johnston.
You remember Rita Johnston, of course. She took over a badly wounded Social Credit party after Bill Vander Zalm was forced to step down in disgrace. She led the party into the disastrous 1991 election, which pretty well finished the party off for good.
Johnston wasn't able to convince voters much had changed with her party and government, even though her scandal-plagued predecessor was gone. Clark appears to be experiencing the same trouble.
The parallels between today and 1991 are striking. Then, we had a government that had clearly overstayed its welcome and we had an NDP Opposition chomping at the bit to form government after an election it expected to win easily.
But we also had another fledgling political party ready to make a splash, and it did just that. That party, of course, was the B.C.
Liberals, who vaulted to official Opposition status on the strength of a single sound bite from then-leader Gordon Wilson in the leaders' debate.
Today, we are waiting to see whether another third party - this time, the B.C. Conservatives - can emulate the 1991 success of the B.C. Liberals.
So the table is certainly set for a replay of the Rita Johnston disaster.
The comeback scenario is difficult to imagine, but it's been successfully pulled off before. Most recently, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger both fought back to win elections even after trailing in the polls by double-digit margins.
In B.C., the model for the Comeback Kid is another Clark - as in Glen. He took over what seemed like a doomed NDP in 1996 and upset the B.C. Liberals, who at one point seemed a shoo-in to win.
For Christy Clark to emulate her namesake's victory, she needs to beat back the challenge posed by the fledgling B.C. Conservative party, which is eating into her support in significant fashion. The defection of disaffected MLA John van Dongen to that party may make that task even harder.
The one silver lining for Clark and her party is that a series of opinion polls haven't shown any real growth in NDP support. It remains at its traditional level of around 43 per cent.
That would suggest if her party can woo most of the B.C. Conservative support back into the fold, it can become a competitive race again for the B.C. Liberals.
Of course, the exact opposite scenario could occur as well. What if the B.C.
Conservatives are the party that grows in popularity, and just drains the B.C. Liberals of even more support?
Former Reform MP Randy White - who is advising B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins - claims at least several more sitting B.C.
Liberal MLAs are poised to come their way.
He won't name names, and this past week a majority of the B.C. Liberal caucus had to run through a gauntlet of reporters who wanted to know if they were running again, whether they supported the premier, and if they still supported the party.
Not a single one of them strayed from the party line. So if White is correct, then some of them aren't telling the truth. Of course, White could be wrong as well. I remember former B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Wilson insisting, in the late 1980s, that as many as six Social Credit MLAs were about to bolt to his party. None did.
Another tiny opening for Clark may be Cummins himself. At the news conference where he welcomed van Dongen with open arms, he seemed shaky and had trouble remembering that he once voted for a federal bill that would have outlawed the floor crossing van Dongen had just performed.
As he comes under more scrutiny, Cummins will have to do better. If he doesn't, Clark may have an advantage. Cummins' age may also work against him; if he's on the television leader's debate, his elderly status will be contrasted to the much more youthful Clark and Adrian Dix, and that won't help him.
So will the B.C. Conservatives turn out to be the latest version of those 1991 B.C. Liberals? Will Christy Clark endure the same fate that befell Johnston and the Socred dynasty?
Or can she get back off the mat, and use the other Clark as inspiration for a more successful outcome, and truly become the Comeback Kid?
The latter scenario is going to be a lot tougher to pull off than the former one.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC.