Monday, May 12, 2014

CONTESTED NOMINATIONS: THE NEW NORM FOR REJUVANATED NL GRITS

With the wind in it's sails, nomination fights are going to be a common thing for the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador heading into the next election.

The party has begun the process of calling nominations for districts that have incumbent members.  Leader Dwight Ball, Andrew Parsons, Jim Bennett and Sam Slade have been acclaimed. Nominations for candidates in the districts of Bay of Islands, St. John’s South, and Virginia Waters close today.


Two members of the Liberal Caucus are facing challengers.

Rookie Lisa Dempster who succeeded Yvonne Jones as the MHA for the District of Cartwright L’Anse au Clair in a byelection on June 25, 2013  - capturing 54% of the vote -  is being challenged by perennial Liberal candidate Danny Dumaresque.

Dumaresque represented the seat, than known as Eagle River, from 1989 through to 1996. He knocked off incumbent Liberal MHA Eugene Hiscock to fly the party banner in the 1989 provincial election that saw Premier Clyde Wells come to power.  Dumarsque fended off a challenge for the Liberal nod in 1993 by Mary's Harbor Mayor Yvonne Jones. She ran as an independent and beat him in the general election.

Danny went on to become the President of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, has a successful career as an entrepreneur and enjoys a high profile for his advocacy work on fisheries and energy issues in the province.

The nomination meetings will be held this Thursday, May 15th. Only those registered as a member or a supporter as of Saturday May 10th will be eligible to vote.

Two other nasty nomination battles are brewing.

Christopher Mitchelmore won the Straits-White Bay North for the New Democrats in 2011. He defected to the Liberals in January after walking away from the NDP Caucus in the Fall of 2013. The nomination has not been called but he already has a formative challenger in the form of Jerome Ward.

Ward is a well known Liberal on the Northern Peninsula where he is the right hand of Federal M.P. Gerry Byrne. He sought the Liberal nomination in St. Barbe district in 2011 loosing to Jim Bennett who went on to knock off PC incumbent Wally Young in the Fall provincial election.

Bennett, a popular lawyer, Mayor and fisheries advocate  had run in the seat in the previous election and had a strong following capturing nearly 50% of the vote.  Over 700 people turned out.

It will be interesting to learn if Mitchelmore has build up enough political currency with local Liberals to fend off a challenge from a life-long Liberal organizer and political staffer.

The other yet to be called contentious nomination is in the district of St. John's West where former Liberal M.P. Siobhan Coady hopes to launch a new career in provincial politics. 

Coady's organization is signing up members in preparation for a battle with George Joyce, who has represented the party in that district in the past two provincial elections. Joyce held onto the Liberal vote in the last provincial election but placed third behind the surging New Democrat Candidate.

Nomination battles are shaping up in districts across the province with candidates announcing early to scare of the competition and stake early claims. Among the districts that I am watching closely is Placentia - St. Mary's where a three way race is shaping up.  Retired educator Ed Moore has announced his intentions. Sherry Gambin Walsh, Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living is also vying for the nod.  Former Newfoundland Party First Party Leader is rumored to be signing up members for a nomination challenge as well.


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