Skinner looking at Tory leadership ‘very very seriously’

James McLeod
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Former Tory cabinet minister Shawn Skinner is still keeping his powder dry, but he sounds an awful lot like somebody who’s getting ready to run.

Shawn Skinner

Skinner has been talked about as one of the potential frontrunners for the PC Party leadership for the past couple weeks — ever since Premier Kathy Dunderdale announced her resignation in January.

“I don’t mind sharing with you that I’m very, very seriously considering this,” Skinner told The Telegram. “I’m just waiting for the party executive to tell us, sort of, the general parameters.”

Skinner said the big thing he’s looking to see is what sort of spending limits the party will put in place.

Under the current PC Party constitution, leadership candidates can spend a maximum of $200,000 during the campaign.

“I’m hearing it’s going to go up; I have no idea how much. I hope it doesn’t go up too much, because I think it’d put it out of reach for some people to be able to spend to that limit,” Skinner said.

During the recent Liberal leadership race, the three front runners were all independently wealthy; two of the candidates spent more than $400,000 on the race. Dwight Ball, who ultimately won the race, spent $312,000.

In all three cases, most of the money came out of their own pocket.

The one Tory leadership candidate who has formally declared that he’s running is also pretty wealthy; Bill Barry owns the Barry Group processing business, with fish plants all across Newfoundland.

Skinner said that he wants to be a competitive candidate, but he’s worried about running up a serious debt if he doesn’t win.

“I think $200,000 is realistic. I think I could raise $200,000. I don’t know if I could raise $400,000 or $500,000,” he said.

One thing that won’t be affecting his decision, though, is who else is running.

Some other potential candidates have signalled that they’re waiting to see who else is in the race before they make a final decision, but Skinner said he’s happy to go up against whoever else is running.

“I’m hoping there will be four or five or six people in this race. I think the more the merrier. I think it would make for a spirited race,” he said. “To be honest with you, James, I’d be disappointed if it was only, say, two people. I think that would be a bit of a negative for the party.”

Skinner said he’s not discounting some of the other good potential candidates in the field, but he said he’s confident about his political abilities.

“I don’t mean that in a boastful or an uncomplimentary way towards the other candidates,” he said. “I’m encouraging others to run. All I’m saying is I that I think I;m going to be as good as anybody there. I’ll be just as good an alternative.

Skinner was first elected as an MHA in 2003, and served in cabinet for several years.

During the 2011 election, Skinner was defeated by New Democrat Gerry Rogers.

Since losing his seat, Skinner has been a regular political commentator, especially on CBC television; he’s been occasionally critical of former premier Kathy Dunderdale’s government, and some of the decisions she made while in office.

Skinner told The Telegram that he has three or four key ideas on how the Tories can turn the page, but he’s reticent to say too much just yet.

“I don't think the PC Party has done a lot wrong,” he said, “I think there are some areas that they need to improve upon, and I think there are some new directions, new initiatives that we need to undertake, and I’ve been talking to people about those.”

He said that through the leadership campaign — if he runs — he hopes the party can win back some of its former supporters.

“Ultimately, the prize here is not winning a leadership. To be honest with you, running for the leadership is only step one. What I’m running for is to form the next government,” he said. “I think there are a number of people who may have felt a little bit distant from the party in recent times, who I think we can bring back with some good policy and some good discussion around where this province and where this party needs to go.”

The party rules committee is expected to make an announcement on the specific rules of the race within the next week or two.

The delegated leadership convention will be held at the St. John’s Convention Centre on the weekend of July 4-5.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: The Telegram, PC Party, Tory Barry Group CBC Convention Centre

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Recent comments

  • Not-a-chance
    February 08, 2014 - 19:58

    Shawn you are living in another world if you think you could win the leadership much less the general election.

  • Marshall Art
    February 08, 2014 - 08:00

    Skinner is looking at a run for the PC leadership 'very, very seriously' and we're very ,very concerned about the perpetual and scary, 'deer in the headlights' stare.

  • Don't bother to run Mr. Skinner, it will be futile.
    February 07, 2014 - 13:15

    Don't run Shawn Skinner, we see you as being partly responsible for coaxing the onerous and risky Muskrat Falls Project upon the hydro consumers and electorate of our province. Now we, who are part of the Ninety Nine per cent of the Newfoundland and Labrador electorate, will be saddled with hydro bills that will break our backs. It won't be very onerous for the one per cent which includes the politicians and their business friends who stand to make millions of dollars on this project, especially the ones who are involved in the development of the project. There are a few extra Billions of dollars of expenditure added to the Muskrat Falls Contract to cover costs for them for the over-runs in their service contracts to that project. We will Never Forget those who went against our wishes. We do not like traitors.

  • Darlene Doyle
    February 07, 2014 - 07:46

    Shawn, I think you would make a great Premier!

  • Skinner-Schminner
    February 07, 2014 - 07:19

    Another one who never quits. Lost his seat in the last election to Gerry Rogers and now he thinks he can be the leader of the PC party. My son; you have delusions of grandeur in the worst kind of way.

    • Paul
      February 07, 2014 - 19:59

      Dwight Ball lost his seat twice and just narrowly won it, and he's running to be premier. Kathy Dunderdale lost her election bid in 93, yet she became premier and Clyde Wells lost his seat in 1989. Shawn is a solid candidate and just because he lost an election is no reason for him not to run for the leadership.

  • Marshall Art
    February 07, 2014 - 07:19

    Very, very scary !!!

  • JJ
    February 07, 2014 - 07:00

    Thats a "Deer in the headlights stare" if I ever saw one.

  • Gary
    February 07, 2014 - 06:28

    Please don`t ,we need new blood not the same as before.

  • Don
    February 07, 2014 - 05:47

    Forget it Shawn. You don't have a chance. The people are sick of retreads,

  • Dianne
    February 07, 2014 - 05:31

    PC's haven't got anything to worry about, concerning forming the next government, As of to date we only got the NDP. and the newly form Zebra party. No one in their right mine would vote for that party.

  • wavy
    February 06, 2014 - 17:57

    Good interview- well done, James. Some interesting comments from Skinner. I think a race between Ball and Skinner for the premiership would be an intriguing and exciting one (notice I didn't postulate a three-way race). I can't think of any other Tory "clean" (or competent) enough to seriously challenge the Grits, at this point. I think Skinner's heart is in the right place and he could well prove a stumbling block for Ball in a provincial election race. Alas, I fear any worthwhile debate between the two may get drowned out by the timbre of a petty "townie vs bayman" mudslingfest launched by the general electorate. I hope I'm wrong.

    • Jay
      February 07, 2014 - 08:06

      Wavy, Unfortunately, the Liberals have already had the "townie vs baymen" mudsling, with Dean McDonald, Paul Antle, and Cathy Bennett getting kicked to the curb in favor of Velcro lips Ball. This will hurt them in the long term.

  • Too Funny
    February 06, 2014 - 14:16

    Too bad for Skinner because voters aren't taking him "very, very seriously". This guy was a Minister that lost his seat. How does he expect to win as Premier. I dunno, something happens to the intellectual capacity of people when they enter politics.

    • Jay
      February 07, 2014 - 14:51

      Did anything happen to the intellectual capacity of Clyde Wells when he lost his seat on the way to becoming Premier, and had to be parachuted into a safe seat later? Your logic is underwhelming.

    • Paul
      February 07, 2014 - 20:03

      By this logic Lorraine Michael should be the next premier because she has lost her seat, unlike Dwight Ball and Shawn Skinner. Except for Cathy Bennett, who hasn't run before, all the other Liberal leadership candidates lost bids for seats in the past.