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EDITORIAL: Eyeing a threat in Port au Port?

Intended or not, it is a vote of confidence for MHA Tony Cornect.

The weekend announcement that Liberal MHAs Scott Reid and Stelman Flynn will seek their party’s nomination in the same district gives the impression Cornect, a Progressive Conservative, may be feared at the ballot box.

When the district of St. George’s-Grand Lake was formed under the work of the new Electoral Boundaries Commission, it effectively combined the lion’s share of St. George’s-Stephenville East with areas of Humber West. The news hasn’t sat well with the public and local politicians living on the east side of the district, who’ve run to blame Liberal Eddie Joyce for recommending the idea in the first place.

Flynn and Reid, rookie MHAs, were quick out of the gates relaying their public intentions to run for the Liberal nod in the proposed new district.

The race for the nomination is expected to be one of the friendliest competitions since spin the bottle. The two members are well-respected, cordial with one another, and haven’t been caught up in the mud-slinging — at least not publicly — that’s enveloped the provincial political scene.

Flynn lives in the district, even if it’s been only for a handful of years, and says that’s important in representing the people: “I grew up in a rural area of this province, and back years ago, they always flew the MHA in, and the party said, ‘This is who’s going to represent you,’” he told TC Media. “I live in the district.”

Reid, on the other hand, lives primarily in St. John’s. He points to the majority of his old district being in the new highway district as a solid reason for running there.

“About 80 per cent of the district that I represent now is in this new district of St. George’s-Grand Lake,” Reid said. “It’s the place where my family is from. It’s the place where I grew up.”

Reid grew up in Jeffrey’s, smack in the middle of the St. George’s-Grand Lake span.

How having two popular MHAs running in the same district would be beneficial for the party is the million-dollar question. Shouldn’t the party look to keep both MHAs in the caucus as it attempts to overthrow government?

Flynn’s choice was limited. To stay in the area, he could either run against another popular MHA, Eddie Joyce, or a popular MP-hoping-to-turn-MHA, Gerry Byrne, for their respective nominations. This didn’t make a lot of sense.

However, Reid had a glaring option he could have taken in running in Port au Port against the Tory incumbent, Cornect. By Reid’s own calculations, he currently represents 20 per cent of the proposed new Port au Port district. Plus, he would be running against a Progressive Conservative, rather than ensuring his party is without one of its sitting MHAs come election time.

Unless there’s a star candidate expecting to run for the Liberals in Port au Port, this move is not for the betterment of the party, even though either Flynn or Reid expect it may be at this time.

It is good news for Cornect, though, as he faces the uphill battle of representing his party, which is dropping in popularity with each new poll.

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