Late convention may help newscomers

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The provincial Tories are going to give leadership candidates plenty of time to mount their campaigns and gather support from party members.

The PCs are aiming to hold their leadership convention to replace just-retired premier Kathy Dunderdale in St. John’s at the end of June — just about five months from now.

That amount of time is of little advantage to any prospective candidate who is already a politician and fairly well known across the province It will, however, be of immense help for those who are outsiders and need every day they can get to make themselves better known to those who will be casting ballots at the convention.

That includes the only announced candidate, Corner Brook businessman Bill Barry.

Barry is known across the province in most circles for his ventures in the fishery but he needs to widen his appeal and spread the word about his political ideas.

Having an early start and nearly five months to criss-cross the province making speeches and building support will give him — and others who declare sooner rather than later — plenty of opportunity to build a solid base of support.

Even holding a full-scale convention is a rarity these days, if that indeed is what is envisioned at this early stage.

The Tories have been in power for about a decade and are reported to be flush with money. That means they can forgo, if they wish, the most recent way of electing a leader by online voting.

That system allows for more party members to become directly involved in the process, but it also eliminates some of the excitement and drama of a “live” convention.

And the provincial PCs can use more than a little bump in their support from a compelling contest. A poll this week showed the party is still well behind the Liberals in support and there isn’t much time to mend fences until a general election, which must be held within a year of a new premier being sworn in.

Whoever wins this race will have plenty of campaigning facing them. Winning the leadership will be just the beginning.

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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