The fight for Foyle will be very much a two-horse race — and it will be a seismic shock if Sinn Fein can oust Mark Durkan and bring the SDLP’s unbroken record of Westminster success to an end.
That sitting MP Mark Durkan has stepped down as the leader of his party to concentrate on the coming battle is an indication of how seriously the SDLP are taking the threat from Sinn Fein’s candidate Martina Anderson.
The big hitters?
Durkan will be hoping his reputation will stand him in good stead, and that he can repeat, if not improve, his strong 46.3% share of the 2005 Westminster vote.
Snapping at his heels will be high profile Foyle Assemblywoman Ms Anderson, who has been catapulted to the party’s front line since entering political life just three years ago.
At the last Assembly elections, Anderson took in 5,414 (13.2%) of first preference votes — just 1,000 short of Mark Durkan’s 15.6%.
Both Anderson and Durkan have gone beyond the call of duty for their constituents and recently travelled to Germany as part of a delegation to secure a better redundancy deal for Arntz workers.
Other candidates and issues?
Jobs will be the number one area of concern for voters in the Foyle area.
This may provide an opening for People Before Profit candidate Eamonn McCann to advance on the 4% of votes he took standing for the Socialist Environmental Alliance in 2005.
In the unionist camp, the DUP will be hoping Derry City Councillor Maurice Devenney can keep UUP-Conservative alliance candidate David Harding, at bay.
Alliance’s hopes are pinned on Derry native Keith McGreellis, the youngest candidate at 33.