It would appear that Dwight Ball made a good impression with members of the Liberal Party over the past two years.
The Humber Valley MHA’s two year stint as interim leader was rewarded with a very convincing win this afternoon at the Liberal Party of Newfoundand and Labrador Leadership Convention. A glowing endorsement considering many feel that he will now become Premier in 2015.
The intern leadership was a restrictive environment for Ball. He 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.
The Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador has been riddled with debt, disorganized and hurting from the fallout from the civil war of 2000. The NL Grits managed to hold onto the role of Official Opposition by the tightest of margins over the surging New Democrats in the last provincial election.
A lot has changed over the past year. The Liberals are leading the polls, increasing their lead over the government and the NDP with successive polls. Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s leadership numbers have tanked. The P.C. Party has been shoved to third place and government satisfaction numbers are at the lowest point since pollster starting measuring them.
The wind is in the Liberals sails.
They finally have a leader chosen by the party , in one of the most successful exercises of direct democracy ever attempted in Canada. Over 40,000 people attempted to register to vote in the process. Some 37,000 were confirmed and over 60% of those voted by phone or on the internet. Sure there were a few bumps but it was a massive undertaking.
The polls show the party is ripe for government but Ball’s leadership numbers have dragged behind the party. He now has to get out on the hustings, recruit candidates and begin a charm offensive to convince the public that he, and his party, deserve to govern.
The party rejected two “superstar” candidates in favor of the status quo. They feel that Ball is the best person to lead them back to government. Those candidates are all very well known to the public and will form the nucleus of a re-energized, united party that is renewed and free from the divides of the past.
This is but the opening battle in a war that could see new leaders at the helm of all three parties. The hard work is just beginning.