Next in line?

Dave Bartlett
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Rumours already starting to swirl about Williams’ successor

Now that Premier Danny Williams has announced he will step down from politics at the end of next week, the big question for political watchers is: who will replace him?

While deputy premier and Natural Resources Minister Kathy Dunderale will be interim premier until a leadership convention can be held in the new year, names have been surfacing for some time about possible successors.

Traditionally, the person named

as interim leader doesn’t run for the leadership full-time as it’s considered as  being at too much of a political advantage.

That being said, Dunderdale could still be considering a run.

Even if it’s only for a short time, Williams said the province is being left in good hands and that the Tory caucus has endorsed Dunderdale’s leadership, at least for now.

“I’m just delighted that Kathy is the first female premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, because she deserves to be,” he said.

“She is a pillar; a tower of strength. She has a huge heart and a huge ... social consciousness. Yet she can be firm and tough when she needs to be.”

Government House Leader Joan Burke, who is also the minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, is another high-profile woman who has been whispered in political circles as being a potential candidate for some time.

But most people get the sense Health Minister Jerome Kennedy could be the front runner.

In the three short years he’s been in politics he’s already held the Justice and Finance portfolios.

Another minister fairly new to politics who is thought to be in the running is Education Minister Darin King.

Innovation Minister Shawn Skinner and Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O’Brien are also thought to be kicking tires.

Williams was asked by reporters about his possible successor.

In fact, he said the reason he was announcing his resignation now, and not in a month or more, was so the party would have time to hold a leadership convention before next year’s general election.

“A new leader can (then) put his or her stamp on a budget, throne speech and as well can do a major session of the House (of Assembly) and have some debate and then go into a summer election campaign,” said Williams.

But the premier was clear he won’t endorse any candidate to replace him.

“These people who will run for leadership of this party, certainly from within caucus — I don’t know if anybody who will come from the outside because I haven’t heard of anyone — are very capable people,” he said.

Of course, there is a possibility that someone from outside the caucus could take a run.

When asked if he left his caucus with any advice about a leadership race, Williams had this reply:

“It’s ... very important that they really try and keep the contest clean, because it can be divisive,” he said.

Williams said he realizes that is easier said than done, and recognized why some reporters may be cynical of that.

But he said if the leadership candidates keep the race above board it could benefit the party as a whole by generating new policies and ideas at the convention.

Organizations: Tory, Youth and Family Services

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Government House

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Recent comments

  • tlj
    November 27, 2010 - 21:59

    I would like to see Kathy Dunderdale run.

  • paul
    November 26, 2010 - 09:01

    Some of those who are mentioned above will be lucky to even get re-elected without riding on Danny's coat tails. If I were one of about 20 PC's in there now I would start looking for a new job between now and October. Historic day for sure, and a great day if you are a Liberal, which I am not.

  • Bill
    November 26, 2010 - 08:50

    Given the possible contenders mentioned in the article, this province will indeed be short changed as none of them can come close to the abilities of Danny Williams. He has left huge shoes to fill and the current stable of MHA's just dont have feet large enough for a snug fit.

  • Graham
    November 26, 2010 - 08:20

    I'd prefer to Elizabeth Marshall come back and take over. I also recall how Danny use to torment Roger Grimes in the House by referring to him as the unelected premier.

  • Robert
    November 26, 2010 - 08:13

    Kevin O'Brien's introduction of the word fairity qualifies him for chief broom sweeper. With nobody to worship after Danny he's done. Forget Darrin King, just another educator with no sense of economics. No difference, they're all flunkies and lackies.

  • Pierre Neary
    November 26, 2010 - 07:38

    The Premier made a good decision in leaving Minister Dunderdale in charge. Other than that Minister Marshall may have been a good choice. After that the talent pool behind them is pretty shallow. Kennedy, Johnson, King, and Burke just don’t have the chops.

  • BI
    November 26, 2010 - 07:21

    I am not PC - but I have grown to respect Danny and all the work he has done for the province. I think Jerome Kennedy would not be the choice people would or should vote for as we have seen how he can get his back up against the people when he wants something done his way - there is no compromise in his way of thinking - I guess he learned from the master, however, Danny would weigh the ramifications and the outcome of situations and Jerome Kennedy has not endeared the people to his way of thinking - or speaking on the TV in particular.

  • Willi Makit
    November 26, 2010 - 07:20

    After 7 years of autocracy, the cupboard is bare. Succession planning wasn't high on the party of one's list of priorities. There will be huge changes in the political landscape next October.

  • DLM
    November 26, 2010 - 07:12

    Anyone EXCEPT Jerome Kennedy. His handling of the negotiations with the doctors has been abysmal! I shudder to think of him as premier at this crucial time in our economic history.