The clock is ticking....many are called but fewer are chosen.
The Liberal Party of Newfoundland has been riddled with debt, disorganized and stuck in a political Sargasso Sea for over a decade.
The NL Grits managed to hold onto the role of Official Opposition by the tightest of margins, one seat, over the upstart New Democrats in the last provincial election.
Those New Democrats captured a greater share of the vote in the last provincial election than the Liberals. Lorraine Michael’s NDP are a force in the post-Danny William's landscape. Poll after poll has propelled the leader and her party grow while the Progressive Conservatives continue to free fall.
The good news, for the Liberals, despite years of malaise, is that they have a solid brand. The nearly insurmountable challenge is that they have not been able to find a superstar candidate to lead the party out of the doldrums.
With the PC's and the NDP locked in a battle on the seat rich North-East Avalon and a three way race,with the Liberal's having a slight lead, in rural Newfoundland and Labrador a political realignment is in the works.
The province wants a leader, forget the political stripe, they want a leader they can respect, who offers genuine leadership and who can live up to our legitimate aspirations. The first one of the three parties to put such a mystical personality on the throne will form the next government. If no such person materializes, we may end up with a minority government.
The Liberals are the first to journey into the leadership arena. Dwight Ball has been acting leader for nearly two years. He indicated from the start that he would be running for the job full-time once the job was posted.
He has had two years to make an impression on his party and the electorate. Under his leadership the party has advanced 5% according to CRA polling. His personal support has risen about the same from a low of 13% to 17% in the CRA Atlantic Quarterly Winter 2013. To put the leadership preferences of those polled in context Lorraine Michael leapfrogged Premier Dunderdale in that last poll with 33% of the sample. Dunderdale slipped to 32% from 48% just a year earlier. Ball trails them both.
The intern leadership has been a poison chalice for Ball. He has had to maintain the status-quo without being provided a real opportunity to put his stamp on policy, organization, staffing or fundraising. Lets face it, who is going to ante up any real capital to support an interim leader.
After all, the leader is only the leader when he or she has emerged from a leadership process. At that point they alone have earned the right to pick the crew and set the course. Ball has been handicapped because of his service to the party.
His reward. He will be judged as if the polls reflect his leadership, when in fact he has been unable to lead. He is an observer over an unwieldy extra-parliamentary wing with great expectations and illusions of entitlement.
Now that the legislature has closed my advice to Ball would be to hand over the interim reigns of leading the party to Eddy Joyce, Andrew Parsons or Randy Edmunds.
Get out on the hustings, recruit, shake hands and convince Liberals, and voters, that you deserve a shot at the job of Premier.
Tell us what an unbridled Dwight Ball would do with his party and the province.