King bows out of PC leadership; other candidates mulling options

James McLeod
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The race to replace former premier Kathy Dunderdale got a bit clearer Monday, as Justice Minister Darin King bowed out and two other candidates made it sound very much like they’re close to jumping in.

Darin King.

Former Tory Natural Resources minister Shawn Skinner said he’s making his final decision.

“I want to be in this race,” he said. “But I’m only going into it if I feel I have support of the people.”

Last Friday, the PC party announced that nominations for the leadership race would open Monday and would close March 14.

The party decided that the spending limit for candidates in the race would be $350,000. In the past few weeks, Skinner has said he’s very interested in running, but he’s not a rich guy, and he’s worried he won’t be able to drum up as much money as other candidates.

On Monday, he said he can live with what the party laid out.

“I still think it’s a lot of money,” he said. “I would have preferred if it was kept at $200,000, but I can understand the party’s rationale.”

The other candidate who sounds like he’s seriously considering a run is Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent.

“I would like to lead the province someday. I believe that I have something to offer to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I’m passionate about this place, I always have been and I'm not discouraged by people telling me that I’m too young or it’s too soon,” he said. “When I ran for city council in Mount Pearl in 1997 — which is now 16 1/2 years ago — I was 19 years old, and most people in my life said, ‘You’re too young. It’s too soon.’”

At the same time, Kent said he knows he’s relatively early in his political career — he’s younger than any of the other serious contenders — and maybe now isn’t the right time.

“Ultimately, I want to do what’s best for the party and what’s best for the province,” he said. “In some ways, I feel I have the luxury of time, in the sense that I hope that I’m in the early stages of my career.”

Senator Fabian Manning and west coast businessman Frank Coleman are also said to be seriously mulling over a leadership bid.

But on Monday, King became the third high-profile cabinet minister to announce he won’t run.

“After careful consideration and discussions with my family and friends, I have decided not to seek the PC party leadership,” he posted on Twitter. “I want to thank all those who reached out to offer me encouragement and support during this process. It was sincerely appreciated.”

Other cabinet leadership contenders Keith Hutchings and Paul Davis have also said they won’t seek the leadership.

At this point, the only two members of the Tory House of Assembly caucus who are said to be thinking about a run are Kent and Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dalley.

As of deadline, Dalley did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Kent said the sense he gets from party members is that people want a diverse field of candidates for the race, so the party can have a really lively discussion about what it stands for and what its principles are.

“I think it’s healthy that there’s talks of multiple candidates still to come. I hope that’s the case. I hope we have strong internal and external candidates at the end of the day,” he said.

West coast businessman Bill Barry is the only candidate who has formally said he’s running for the PC party leadership

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Tory House of Assembly

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • Doug
    February 18, 2014 - 12:06

    Steve Kent's ego is unreal. He is a total joke. He has hardly been a Minister very long, was denied a spot at the Cabinet table forever, and now this little suck up thinks he can vault himself into the Premier's chair??? LOL! What an inflated sense of self this guy has. Completely delusional and always was. You're a politician, Steve, no better or more important than anyone else, though you may think you are. What a complete joke.

  • original townie
    February 18, 2014 - 08:48

    @ Incognito....too late for quadrider to wear a helmet. The damage apparently is already done. Really....Manning for PC leader? Hasn't he been rejected a few times in the past then scurries back to Ottawa with his tail between his legs?

  • original townie
    February 18, 2014 - 08:08

    Smart move King. Once you through your hat in you have to resign your ministry. Big gamble....lose the leadership, lose the cushy pension. Basically unemployed. Even though getting re elected is slim, the chances are slightly better than attaining leadership. Neither option is great though. As for Kent....what a joke! How does he expect to raise funding for a campaign. Really, who would contribute? Think again Stevie. You and Darrin are in the same canoe paddling upstream. Bye bye : )

  • Guy Incognito
    February 18, 2014 - 07:47

    Manning was the biggest Harper suck up in years. I wouldn't vote for him in a million years.... Besides, the next federal government won't be much for your argument quadrider.....wear a hemlet.....

  • quadrider
    February 18, 2014 - 05:56

    Enough of this now so come on Fabian Manning and announce you are entering the leadership contest and eventually becoming the next Premier. If NL is really concerned about having good realtionship with Ottawa then Fabian is our man. This hyas to happen for Ottawa/NL to work together. My vote is for Fabian for Leader & Premier

    • Chantal
      February 18, 2014 - 07:31

      "...a good relationship withOttawa." Like the relationship a dog has with its master?