The nomination deadline has passed and the three candidates competing for the hearts and votes of Progressive Conservatives in the party's second attempt to replace Kathy Dunderdale are on the campaign trail.
Paul Davis, considered by many pundits as the front runner, was reaching out to younger voters at Memorial University on the first night of the official campaign. He is is listening mode, reaching out to existing Conservatives and hoping to appeal to a larger audience.
Former cabinet minister John Ottenheimer picked up a huge endorsement this morning. Defeated Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner, the first party type to publicly criticize Dunderdale for her poor handling of the Hydro outages last January, is backing Ottenheimer.
Skinners endorsement seems to confirm that Ottenheimer's decision to run was based on the anticipation of gathering old guard support. Ottenheimer's former Executive Assistant was tapped by Frank Coleman as his Chief of Staff before the Premier select resigned for family reasons.
While I think Ottenheimer has a number of political liabilities, his personal style & integrity is a great asset. I have heard him recently on NTV's Issues and Answers, CBC's Crosstalk & on On-Point where his easy going nature and experience shone through.
On top of his experience as a Cabinet Minister, he also understands opposition politics which will be of great strategic importance to the PC's going into an election period.
He is the best positioned of the the three candidates.
At this point his only caucus support comes from
Innovation, Business and Rural Development Minister Susan Sullivan ( Grand Falls -Windsor - Buchans)
Paul Davis is racking up support as well. He has the most declared caucus support, at this point. Several cabinet ministers: Derick Dalley (The Isles of Notre Dame) and Terry French (Conception Bay South District) are with him. He has the support of Baie Verte-Springdale MHA, Kevin Pollard who was considering a run at the leadership. Other backbenchers supporting him are Elli Cross (Bonavista North), Wade Verge (Lewisporte) Glen Littlejohn ( Port de Grave)
At this point, Steve Kent has the support of five members of the caucus. Conception Bay East - Bell Island MHA David Brazil,
Bellevue MHA Calvin Peach. Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune MHA Tracey Perry
and Lake Melville MHA Keith Russell. Burin Placentia West MHA &
Cabinet colleague Clyde Jackman attended the campaign launch.
I'll keep the endorsements updated as they come in.
The Conservatives gather to select a leader on Sept. 13 in St. John's, if all three can last the duration of the Summer campaign.
* Revised list of endorsements as of 5:22 p..m.