It is getting difficult to walk around without tripping on a Liberal, or a Libeal want-to-be, that wants to run in the next election.
The rise in the party’s popularity and the election of a leader has energized the organizational, fundraising, legislative and grassroots roots wings. For the past three provincial elections, the Liberals were challenged to put up a full slate of viable candidates.
Now the gold rush is on. The perception that the Liberals are on a roll, that the electoral winds are in their sails – has egos, advocates, municipal leaders, plant owners, Tories, New Democrats and those that hung in their in the tough times chomping at the bit.
The taste of success, the lure of the winning team, egalitarianism and some self-interested motivation has folks raring to go, early if need be, to ensure they are in position to capture the right to fly the Liberal Party Banner in the 2014/15/16 election.
The defection of Paul Lane and the departures of Kathy Dunderdale have accelerated the steeple chase. The players and the political landscape have changed. A fixed October 2015 provincial election is no longer in play. The players are changing. The odds at the crap table have suddenly changed. This is the unknown.
The election could come at any point after the Progressive Conservative Party selects a new leader. The timing of an election will be at the discretion of one person, the new un-elected Premier.
The Liberals are hoping the Conservatives will go all cannibalistic, like rats on the MV Lyubov Orlova. The PC’s were able to avoid a potentially divisive leadership race in 2011. The competing (warring) parties stood down crowning the least offensive person leader. The reprieve is over. Many are being called to the leadership from outside and inside the party.
Does anyone else find it at all ironic that no one wanted to be leader in 2011 when the polls were so high? Anyone of the knights could have stepped up and removed Excalibur from the stone – but no one did, leaving Dunderdale the default leader. Now, the job is open and the risks are much higher. PC support has plummeted and plummeted.
Rebuilding the brand is going to take some special talent.
The Grits do not think that it is possible. They have seen this play out before. It is their turn to govern, by default if nothing else. The competition for seats is becoming fierce right across the province. I would not be counting my chicks before they hatch, but one has to prepare for the possibility of a battle for any nomination.
Take the district of St. John’s West. A PC stronghold under former MHA Shelia Osborne. Twice George Joyce carried the party standard into the battle to be rejected. He was hoping that three times was the charm but another wants it. Former Liberal MP Siobhan Coady has announced she will contest the nomination. Ouch! Over in Mount Pearl South, Liberals aspiring to knock out PC Paul Lane now can support him or take him on for the Liberal nomination. One less opportunity for some dyed-in-the-wool Liberal!
The story will be played out over and over again. Leader Dwight Ball has promised open nominations for all, even in his own district. Anyone who wants to be a candidate will have to win the support of local Liberals first.
There will be no free passes for anyone – new, old, retreaded, or converted.
Hence the race to get out front and try and scare the competition away.
May the best-organized win.
And may the party offer the financial stewardship, leadership, vision, accountability and passion for this place that the public are looking for.