Kent says he offers ‘youthful energy’ in bid for premiership

James McLeod
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Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent was surrounded by family — including his three-day-old son — as he announced Thursday night that he’s running to be premier of the province.

Mount Pearl North MHA Steve Kent announces he is in the running for the leadership of the PC party at the Hotel Mount Pearl on Thursday night with his wife, Janet Kent, and their son, Sam Kent. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Kent made his three children the focus of his speech, saying his leadership bid is fundamentally about them.

“I’m thinking about my children’s future. I’m thinking about their children’s future. I’m thinking about a prosperous future for generations of people in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Kent said. “We all want the best for our children. We want them to have opportunity and prosperity.”

About 150 people packed into the Hotel Mount Pearl to hear Kent's speech, and most of them stuck around for the pig roast outside afterwards.

Kent becomes the third person to jump into the PC party leadership race. On Wednesday, Health Minister Paul Davis threw his hat in the ring. Former Tory cabinet minister John Ottenheimer has been an accredited candidate for more than a week.

This is the second time the Tories have run their leadership selection race since then-premier Kathy Dunderdale resigned in January.

In the first going off, no one from the Progressive Conservative caucus or cabinet entered the race, and cabinet ministers lined up to support businessman Frank Coleman, who had zero political experience.

Behind the scenes it was widely rumoured that former premier Danny Williams was orchestrating the political fait accompli.

Coleman was on track to win the PC leadership by default after his competitors withdrew or were kicked out of the race, but in June, he shocked the political world by withdrawing from public life for unspecified family reasons.

Kent endorsed Coleman back in March.

“The only reason I didn’t run last time is at the 11th hour, I decided to support Frank Coleman. And Frank Coleman isn’t in the race this time, so I am,” Kent told reporters Thursday night.

He said one of the main things that sets him apart from Ottenheimer and Davis is his age.

“I have great respect for Paul Davis and John Ottenheimer. I bring something a little different. I bring some youthful energy and enthusiasm,” Kent said.

“I’m 36. I consider that youthful, although my friends remind me all the time that I’m not as youthful as I think.”

Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Clyde Jackman also brought up Kent’s age, saying youth is just what the PC party needs.

“I’ve seen him operate as a minister. He’s a very bright, intelligent, capable young man,” Jackman said. “Over the next couple of months, you’re going to see this gentleman establish where he sees this province going.”

Kent’s wife, Janet Kent, said it’ll be a challenge to handle a newborn and two other small children while Kent is off on the campaign trail, but as a family, they’re excited about the race.

“It’s a very crazy time. Sam was born on Monday, and here we are today,” she said. “Steve will be on the road, because he intends, obviously, to visit all the districts, and we’ll try to get there with him as much as we can.”

The deadline for nominations for the PC party leadership races is Monday. In July and August, district associations will elect delegates for a convention in September, where the new leader will be elected.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Youth and Family Services

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Scott
    July 04, 2014 - 15:17

    I believe Steve Kent is only running because he was told he was allowed to. He is a total opportunist and a person who shouldn't run an errand let alone a province. He is a self promoter who will do anything and say anything to further his own agenda. If Mr. Kent becomes our next premier I will be moving to another province. This guy supported Bill 29, he doesn't have any new ideas! He is just a mouth piece. Paul Davis will win hands down.

  • ABK
    July 04, 2014 - 13:35

    ABK - Anyone But Kent. The PC's are guaranteed obliteration in the next election if this guy gets nominated leader. Praised Coleman to high heavens on the radio and bragged about how Danny "wanted" him to enter the race but umm he didn't. Curious was this announcement made from Florida like when he called in during Dark NL without telling us he was in Florida?

  • gb
    July 04, 2014 - 12:28

    sheesh..this guy seems to have a lot of haters! I think he is intelligent, articulate and while not a youth if he wants to play that card so be it. I think he will do nothing but good things for this provonce. When I look at all the other canditates from his party and the other parties all I see is the same old same old. Go for it Kent!

  • MtPearl Life da da da
    July 04, 2014 - 10:15

    If my dad used me as a political prop I'd grow up and call him a dork. Come on dad by. Poor little man getting tossed around like Primce George. Some cute though. Good luck Buddy.

  • The Oldest, Wisest Action Hero
    July 04, 2014 - 10:10

    Oppenheimer has to outwit a cop and a boyscout. Good luck with that.

  • Virginia Waters
    July 04, 2014 - 09:50

    Of the three candidates on offer - Kent is the least credible. People will remember it was Kent who lambasted CBC for reporting that his Scouts Canada organization had sat on a confidential list of pedophile suspects and had failed to report allegations of sexual abuse to police. He insisted there hadn't been a cover-up but was forced to do an about-face only months later when an investigation showed that was untrue. You'd think he'd have learned something about transparency and accountability but within months, he was backing Bill 29 - the Secrecy Act intended to keep government information out of the hands of the public that paid for it. This kid has a lot of growing up to do before he could ever be trusted with the reigns of government.

  • Mark
    July 04, 2014 - 09:26

    Someone should tell Mr. Kent that youthful energy has no advantage in politics, in fact quite the opposite. We need experience, stubbornness to de3al with the federal government and business smarts to position this province where it needs to be for future generations. It's great that he's looking out for his children, but he needs to look out for an entire province.

    • S Burns
      July 05, 2014 - 15:14

      the amount of experience that Steve Kent has at the municipal and provincial level of politics will assist him in this race. This does not mention the ability to run a large volunteer organization at the same time, and take that organization through a very difficult time. Yes he is youth, but that does not mean he is not capable of doing the job. Steve has shown again and again how capable he is.

  • LOL
    July 04, 2014 - 07:58

    This is an absolute joke. Davis will win handily and has the credibility, not this butt kissing, egotistical fool from Da Pearl. He is nothing but a shameless opportunist and is completely disingenuous as he has always been. Today it is so apparent to all. "Youthful energy"? Actually, a 36 year old doesn't have the life experience someone a decade or two older does, the wisdom and gravitas. So what if you are in your mid thirties? How is that some sort of advantage or thing to highlight? It's not the cutesy 12 year old mayor anymore. This fellow is just a brown nosing player in a big farce. LOL

  • tim
    July 04, 2014 - 05:59

    This is funny. Someone flash a picture of Coleman and Kent will drop out! By the way do we get Humber Valley bonds back now?!