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Monday 15 August 2011

Leadership Race Debrief

And now it's over. It has been a busy few days for anyone interested in the leadership of the Liberal Party, and it has certainly been crazy for me! Now that it's all been said and done I thought I'd take a few minutes to give my impression of the candidates, the process, the consultations and the direction from here onto the October election.

The Process
From the moment Yvonne announced that she was stepping aside as leader the Executive Board of the Liberal Party were faced with an incredibly difficult decision. How do you determine a new leader, with appropriate input from party members in time to still mount an effective election campaign for October. There were certainly those who would have liked to have seen a quickly organized and executed leadership convention, but I agree with the position taken by the Board. We needed a leader ASAP, there simply wasn't enough time or money to hold a proper convention of any sort. And I say that knowing fully that a longer process may have worked to my favor as a candidate. In the few short days, and the few people I could reach with my message, I had very positive results, and I know I could have mobilized more people given more time. But we didn't have the time and that's the reality.

The only change I would have made would have been some tangible and substantial accounting of the consultations via the telephone and email comments. Some sort of a scoring matrix, or possibly even a weighted system of votes that would see the consultation votes literally counted at the table. With that aside, I fully support the process and the legitimacy of the selection.

The Candidates
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and speaking with each of the 6 other candidates in the race and I can say that I was honoured to be in such esteemed company. This group of individuals have to be commended for stepping up to the plate to offer themselves for what will be a very difficult and demanding position.

Bern Coffey: A well respected, and very well spoken man. He is a consummate professional and I really hope he does run in October. It will be a great loss to us all if he doesn't.

Danny Dumaresque: A long time party supporter and experienced man. I'm not sure I've ever met a man with more passion about politics and the Liberal Party. That kind of passion earns my respect.

Charles Murphy: Without a doubt the closest to an "everyman" in the bunch of us. We spoke briefly about how we need more "regular" people involved in politics.

Rodney Martin: Touted himself as a "maverick" in the race and offered himself as a regular voter as well. Again a well spoken man and I hope he remains involved as well.

Ryan Lane: Well if you read my blog you probably know what my platform was, and that I'll be going after the nomination in Bonavista South no matter who the leader is!

Brad Cabana: Brad has been in the media since his bid for the PC leadership a while back and after meeting him I believe he is fully interested in improving the political scene in NL. I believe he intends to seek a nomination in the CBS area and I wish him luck.

Kevin Aylward: He offered the most practical experience as a former Cabinet Minister. He is well spoken and is a well know individual, and a down to earth good guy.

Of course Kevin earned the nod, and he'll make a great leader for the Party.

Liberals could email or telephone their comments and preferences into the executive, but the most notable event that took place was the Virtual Town Hall and arranged by Mark Watton. Put together in a very short time, this process saw almost 3500 NL households listen and pose questions and comments to the available candidates. For the full details check out Mark's Blog over here.

The bottom line is that there was tremendous support for the candidates and interest in the process. The Liberal party should be buoyed up by the level of interest and participation in such a short time.

Now What?
The Liberal Party of NL has now chosen a new leader and he has to hit the ground running. The clock is ticking and there are thousands of voters who waiting to be inspired to mark their X. The election readiness committee, the Board and the new Leader must plan quickly and act effectively. They must get the remaining candidates in place and the the show on the road.

For me, I'm ready to roll as soon as the nomination is called for Bonavista South. I look forward to inspiring liberals to chose me as their candidate, and then convincing the folks in Bonavista South to select me as their representative in the House of Assembly.


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