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Conservatives Select London Mayor

January 17, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ Britain’s opposition Conservative Party on Monday selected Steven Norris, a former transportation minister who once had five mistresses, as its candidate for London’s first elected mayor.

``I have had losing and I have had winning, and believe me, winning is better,″ Norris, 54, said of his rocky road to the nomination.

He got back in the race in November when the Conservatives’ original choice, best-selling novelist Jeffrey Archer, was dumped after admitting he once asked a friend to lie for him. Soon after, a party committee dropped Norris because of numerous extramarital affairs.

Widely regarded as the only Tory capable of beating Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labor Party for the job, Norris was restored to the nominee list by the Conservative leadership a month ago.

In a vote by nearly half the registered Conservative members in London, Norris beat businessman Andrew Boff by 12,903 votes to 4,712.

He said he hoped the race would focus on issues _ not personalities _ in the May 4 election for the high profile job running the city of 7 million people.

Norris lives with his current partner, Emma Courtney, 34, and their son, Harry, who is nearly 2. He and his wife, a staunch Roman Catholic, have not so far divorced.

Labor is having even more trouble selecting a candidate, and its nominee is not due to be announced for another month.

Blair is trying to block the selection of a popular, leftist lawmaker, Ken Livingstone, and is backing former Health Secretary Frank Dobson.

Labor has set up an electoral college in which lawmakers _ more likely to vote for Dobson _ will have one-third of the vote.

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