The great folks of St. George's - Stephenville East are without an elected member to the House of Assembly.
Joan Shea (Burke) stepped down on July 02nd after serving as a Tory MHA and cabinet minister from 2003.
There has been talk of a couple of scenarios related to the timing of the by-election. One scenario has the by-election take place in August, another the week after the PC Leadership convention in September. The call for the byelection has to be made by Aug. 2
The tories are in need of some real electoral momentum. They have lost a number of high profile by-elections in the face of declining pubic opinion polls. The loss of both former Premier Dunderdale and Former Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy's old seats couple with the defection of two PC caucus members to the Liberals, has the PC's yearning for a bounce.
St. George's - Stephenville East is a swing seat, it likes to be on the government side. The seat is the amalgamation of the old St. George's and half of the old Stephenville seat (prior to 1996). The seat has a long history of having strong Cabinet Ministers like Kevin Aylward, Ron Dawe and more recently Joan Shea.
However, in 1985 the Stephenville seat went against the Peckford tide and elected a 22 yer old Liberal Kevin Aylward who kept the seat Liberal for 17 years.
Having a member on the government side, access to the treasury for municipal infrastructure and economic diversification & local representation will certainly be key issues.
A sign that the by-election may come earlier appeared on Friday when the PC Party opened the nomination process for it's candidate. The PC's have been trying to convince popular Mayor Tom O'Brien to seek the job. A few others have said no - leaving Educator Wally Childs as the sole person pursuing the job.
Nominations close at noon tomorrow. (July 22)
The NDP have selected Bernice Hancock who flew the party's standard in the 2011 General Election.
The poll leading Liberal Party of Newfoundland selected Dr. Scott Reid who was born in the Codroy Valley, grew up in Bay St. George South and attended the College in Stephenville before leaving the area to pursue his masters & PhD. He is well known party organizer, senior staffer and has a lock on a cabinet job if the Liberals win the government next year.
The Grits and the Dippers have had a few week jump on the PC's. The candidates have been knocking on doors and putting together their respective organizations for a couple of weeks while the shell-shocked PCs attempted to find a stellar candidate.
I suspect that the call will be made today or tomorrow.
Got your motor running!
It is going to be interesting to learn what the pundits, media and partisans have to say about the result of this by-election.