Who is your MHA backing?
Trinity-Conception-Placentia has support for all three PC candidates
For those following the PC leadership race, three politically experienced candidates have shown it is anyone’s race.
Steve Kent, Paul Davis and John Ottenheimer have been travelling the province, seeking support to be the next leader of Newfoundland and Labrador, and it’s fair to say each has a strong following.
Closer to home, residents in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region are curious whom their local MHAs are supporting.
The region is divided into six electoral districts — Harbour Main, Port de Grave, Carbonear-Harbour Grace, Bellevue, Placentia-St. Mary’s and Trinity-Bay de Verde. The Tories hold five of those six seats. With five different members does it mean five different opinions on who should be the province’s next premier?
Coincidently, it does.
Finance minister undecided
One of the highest profile MHAs in the province, Finance Minister Charlene Johnson, holds the seat for Trinity-Bay de Verde.
Johnson has not publicly supported a candidate, but told The Compass she is almost ready to pull the trigger.
“Truthfully, I haven’t made up my mind yet,” she said. “I am impressed by all three candidates.”
Johnson has had the opportunity to work with all three during her time in office. Ottenheimer was a member of the PC caucus when she was first elected in 2003. But she explained Kent and Davis have been great in their portfolios, and would also make good leaders.
Johnson is expected to announce her decision in the coming weeks.
Port de Grave MHA Glenn Littlejohn believes Topsail MHA Paul Davis is the best man for the job.
“(Davis) is the best person to be the next premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and the best person to lead us into the future,” he said.
Prior to spending time in provincial politics together, Littlejohn and Davis were each members of their respective municipal councils.
Littlejohn lauded Davis’ skills as a communicator and his work ethic.
“(Paul) has a good way of getting his message across. He works extremely hard and I just believe he is the best man for the job,” he said.
Davis has ties to the Port de Grave district. His wife is from the Bay Roberts area.
John is the man
Meanwhile, Harbour Main MHA Tom Hedderson has placed his faith in former cabinet minister and colleague John Ottenheimer.
“(Ottenheimer) is the man who is going to be able to do it in 2015, there is no doubt about it,” said Hedderson.
Ottenheimer is a constituent of Hedderson’s, as well as a member of Hedderson’s family through marriage.
“(Ottenheimer) is well-educated, well-experience. He’s got a good way with people and he has a vision as to where we, as a people, need to go at this particular time,” said Hedderson.
Placentia-St. Mary’s MHA Felix Collins has thrown his support behind the youngest candidate, Steve Kent.
Although Kent has been a member of the PC caucus since 2007, he has the least experience in cabinet, being named in October 2013 by former premier Kathy Dunderdale.
“At this stage in the game, my final decision is to support Steve,” Collins explained. “I’ve seen Steve in action, especially this past year. He’s young, energetic and proactive.”
Collins said he was impressed with is Kent’s ability to connect with the public through social media. He said it gives him a leg up to the younger generation, and also keeps him in contact with those outside the greater St. John’s area.
Although Collins supports Kent, he does believe it’s a tight competition.
“Right now, it’s a three horse race, and I’d like to see it stay that way,” he said.
Collins has already announced he will not run in 2015, and plans to take some time off after three careers — he was an educator for 30 years, practiced law for 12 and has a decade in politics.
Peach supports Kent
Attempts by The Compass to reach Bellevue MHA Calvin Peach were unsuccessful.
In an online publication by CBC, Peach is said to have thrown his support behind Steve Kent.
This is the second attempt at finding a leader for the Progressive Conservatives. The previous nominations earlier this year brought out three candidates — Bill Barry, Frank Coleman and Wayne Bennett.
The nomination process began again after the ballot was cleared with two candidates stepping away and one being removed from the race.
The revival of interest in the party’s leadership has some people interested in seeing what the party will offer after the leader is chosen, while others question if that will be enough to hold on as government in 2015.
The decision will be made at the PC convention in St. John’s Sept. 12-13.
Meanwhile, whoever the future leader may be, they are said to have an uphill battle ahead if they want to ensure a Tory victory in the next provincial election.
Public opinion does not favour the Conservatives, with Dwight Ball’s Liberal party jumping ahead in the latest polls.