Who's in, who's not?
The sprint is on. Only one day after Yvonne Jones formally stepped down as leader of the Liberal party, the race is on in earnest to replace her.
Nominations opened Wednesday and will close at noon Friday. The party executive says by Monday morning, a new leader will be anointed.
Wednesday afternoon, former MHA Danny Dumaresque ann-ounced he’ll be running to replace Jones.
Brad Cabana, who tried to run for the PC party leadership earlier this year, announced his candidacy via Twitter in the afternoon.
Some other heavy hitters seem to be waiting in the wings, including St. John’s lawyer Bern Coffey, who is expected to announce his candidacy today.
Prospective candidates will have to make up their minds quickly.
When Jones resigned due to health issues Tuesday, she left the Liberal party in a tight spot, only two months ahead of the provincial election.
Normally, the party’s constitution would require a full convention with 45 days’ notice. But due to the time constraints, the party’s executive board drew up an expedited process Tuesday evening.
When nominations close Friday at noon, the party leadership will invite input from members across the province.
On Sunday, all the candidates will be asked to give a presentation to the party’s executive board.
Sunday evening, the board will weigh its options and pick the person who will lead the Liberals into the provincial election.
“We came up with what we thought to be very much a democratic process for the time frame we were working in,” Liberal party president Judy Morrow told The Telegram Wednesday.
“These are people that have been elected by the party members to represent them at this level, and deal with situations such as this.”
However, among some Liberals, there was grumbling the process doesn’t give rank-and-file members more of a say.
With only 48 hours to bow in or bow out, candidates were testing the waters Wednesday.
Heavyweights like former finance minister Lloyd Matthews and Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms declared they wouldn’t be running.
With Coffey expected to announce his candidacy today, all eyes will turn to former Liberal minister Chuck Furey, whose name has been talked about a lot by party members this week.
A source close to Furey downplayed expectations, saying he hasn’t had much time to consider it.
Others seemed to be waiting to make a decision based on who else is in the mix.
“I’m assessing it, I guess,” said Liberal MHA Marshall Dean. “There are names obviously, that if they came forward, I would be more interested in supporting than going against them.”
Mark Watton, who ran in a byelection in Corner Brook earlier this year, also said he was weighing his options.
“It’s hard to imagine having to pull something like that together in 48 hours, but we’ll see,” he said. “I mean, I haven’t ruled it out, but I certainly haven’t ruled it in.”
Online, many Liberals expressed their disappointment with the prospective candidates and started pushing for Siobhan Coady — who lost her federal seat in the May 2 election — to run provincially.
Coady said she’s not interested in running. Other federal Liberals, including Scott Andrews, Scott Simms and Gerry Byrne all said they would be staying out of the provincial arena.
But speaking to The Telegram, Byrne called on the government to delay the Oct. 11 provincial election to allow the Liberals more time to sort out their leadership situation.
“By sticking with the election date, I think it could easily be perceived that the other parties are simply now taking advantage, for their own interests,” he said. “I feel very strongly that, you know what, even a four-week delay would show a sign of fairness and actually be more in keeping with the spirit of the fixed election day act.”
Government House leader Joan Burke said postponing the election isn’t going to happen.
“Everyone has known since December 2004 the exact date of this election coming up, and at that time, all parties agreed to fixed elections,” she said. “The Liberals certainly emphasized that they liked the legislation and the process that was being introduced because they felt that it could not be manipulated.”