Kennedy quits

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Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy is throwing in the towel. He says he decided over the summer to step down from politics.

It was likely brewing long before that.

When he was recruited to run for office in 2007 by then -premier Danny Williams, many speculated he was being groomed as a successor. Who better than a defence attorney to replace the reigning defence attorney?

Kennedy quickly gained a reputation as a fixer and an attack dog — “crackie” was one nickname that seemed to stick.

In the years following, he was shuffled from one department to another as the person best able to tackle sticky situations. As health minister, he tangled with doctors. As natural resources minister, he held the fort against Muskrat Falls critics.

On a personal basis, people who know Kennedy well say he’s warm-hearted and generous. It’s a far cry from the shrill public outbursts he’s famous for in both the courtroom and the legislature.

And that’s almost an understatement.

Kennedy has a long history of getting in hot water.

In 2003, on the eve of an inquiry into wrongful convictions, he famously characterized local judges as being poorly qualified and biased. Despite a complaint from Chief Justice Derek Green, the Law Society stopped short of reprimanding him.

During the inquiry itself, he was scolded a couple of times for his aggressive behaviour.

In the House of Assembly, Kennedy often lashed out at what he deemed to be bad behaviour from opposition MHAs, but gave as good as he got. On at least two occasions, he was forced to apologize for unparliamentary language. One of those apologies he prefaced with hands on hips and a long, steely glare at the acting Speaker.

The timing of his departure is no coincidence.

He has, in recent weeks, helped wrap up a string of labour agreements.

And while opponents of Premier Kathy Dunderdale will see it as a high-profile rat leaving a sinking ship, the fact Kennedy stayed around so long is more of a testament to her influence than his departure now a bad omen.

When Williams stepped down in 2010, many pundits predicted Kennedy would get to fulfil his destiny. But his candidacy failed to materialize after backroom talks led to Dunderdale’s coronation as party leader.

The next big question: who will win Carbonear-Harbour Grace in the byelection?

The district remained primarily Liberal until Kennedy was first elected, but his win was decisive. In both the 2007 and 2011 races, Kennedy averaged 75 per cent of the vote.

The man owns Carbonear. And, current PC misfortunes aside, he could probably sell it to the next in line.

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