"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"
-Homer J. Simpson

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Saskatchewan NDP Leadership Anaysis

So talk of leadership is once again in the air in Saskatchewan. The liberals are desperate:

With $10,000 in the bank and a Yamaha Road Star motorcycle to get around, Ryan Bater has launched a no-frills campaign to lead the Saskatchewan Liberal party.Bater, the 30-year-old general manager of the Battlefords Regional Economic Development Authority, is the first to declare his candidacy, two months before the deadline.

And there is the inevitable speculation about the NDP side:

That means most of the leadership speculation is now circulating around young, current NDP caucus members including Warren McCall, Cam Broten and even Deb Higgins, though some NDP insiders say selecting a younger, lower-profile leader is pretty much an admission the party can't win in 2011.
Actually Mr. Mandryk, keeping Calvert would be the admission that we can't win, not moving on to someone new - that shows the NDP thinks there IS a chance. Mind you, the view from up Mandryk's ass (where his head is) is by definition somewhat stunted.

So here is a run-down of the all the rumors of leadership candidates that are floating around and the pros and cons of each. There is (and never has been) a perfect candidate and all the potential people have both pros and cons.

Dwain Lingenfelter

Pros: Ability to raise a lot of money, supposedly a pretty good network still for not having lived in the province for years, possible appeal to the business community, name recognition.

Cons: First elected in the 70's (Doesn't exactly reek of renewal). Perceived as "right-wing" in the party and therefore might have trouble winning, has been out-of-province for over a decade.

Analysis: Dwain would no doubt be a strong contender if he ran. He might even have a shot at winning. That being said, other than a couple of vocal MLA's and some back room hacks from the early 90's, who is talking about this guy? I haven't met any rank and file party members who support him. I am told the support it there, but I haven't seen it in person.

Louise Simard

Pros: Woman, Intellectual, name recognition.

Cons: Shut down 52 rural hospitals, has been out-of-province for over a decade. First elected in 1991.

Analysis: I have never met Ms. Simard, so it is difficult for me to comment, but I know a number of people in the party who speak pretty highly of her. I am told she approaching people about a possible Leadership bid but has not made up her mind to run yet.

Nettie Wiebe

Pros: Woman, Intellectual, name recognition, Placed third last time, viewed as on the "left".

Cons: Never been elected even after running 3 times (Federally), has never even ran provincially, viewed as on the "left"

Analysis: Nettie has a strong following and, as she showed last time, would make a credible run. I think her star has sunk a little since then and there is no indication that she would run again as from all accounts she is focused on federal politics now.

Maynard Sonntag

Pros: Name recognition, ran last time, rural candidate.

Cons: Did not win his seat int he last election, did not do well last time.

Analysis: I have head from a couple of people that Maynard is definitely in the race, and have heard from others that he is just thinking about it. My guess would be that he will run, but I am doubtful that he can win.

Warren McCall

Pros: Young, viewed as on the "left", strong party background

Cons: Not well known outside Regina, not the strongest public speaker (but this could be overcome), viewed as on the "left"

Analysis: Warren is probably the strongest "young" contender as a sitting member of caucus for more than 7 months. His strong party background is a plus as well. That being said, I would be fairly surprised if he ran this time around.

Deb Higgins

Pros: Woman, ties to organized labour, Good performer in the House, from outside Regina/Saskatoon, first elected in 1999 (to replace Calvert, interestingly enough)

Cons: Ties to organized labour

Analysis: Deb is a strong contender and if she can use her ties to labour to sign up members that would be a powerful advantage. She is liked by most members of the party and is a good performer in the House. She also has executive experience in a few different Cabinet posts. I think Deb is one of the front-runners out of the current caucus if she decides to run.

Cam Broten

Pros: Young

Cons: Young

Analysis: Cam is by all accounts one of the rising stars of the NDP, but he has only been an MLA for 7 months. He may run to get his name out there for next time, but I would be surprised if he could win it. Keep a close eye on him for next time, however.

Pat Atkinson

Pros: Woman, well-liked by a large group in the party

Cons: First elected in 86, not well liked by a large group in the party.

Anaysis: Pat is a polarizing figure in the NDP, you either really like her or you really don't like her, there is no real middle ground. I will be surprised if she doesn't run, but I would also be surprised if she won.

Frank Quennell

Pros: Intelligent and Funny (in a sarcastic way), perceived as one of the better cabinet ministers, first elected in 2003

Cons: Lack of Charisma

Analysis: If Frank ran, he would have to try to persuade people that he could fill the "Allen Blakeney" shoes. Blakeny was very smart and had little personal charisma. That being said, Blakeney was a great premier.....

Eric Cline

Pros: Fantastic House performer, great cabinet minister, very well-spoken and hard worker.

Cons: Perceived as on the "right" of the party. Would take a hit for having sat out the 07 election.

Anaysis: Eric would also be a strong contender if he ran, but by all accounts he is not interested.

Andrew Tompson

Pros: Decent house performance, good cabinet minister by all accounts.

Cons: Disliked by many in the party. Doesn't live in the province, would take a hit for having sat out the 07 election.

Analysis: I will be very surprised if he ran.

Yens Peterson

Pros: Young, Hard Worker, President of the Party

Cons: Didn't win his seat in the last election, not well-known.

Analysis: Yens has been impressing party members all over the province by all accounts as one of the hardest working presidents in years. I have no idea if he would consider running for Leader but he might have a chance at attracting the establishment vote. His ability to sign up new members might be limited.

Ralph Goodale

Pros: Name recognition, lot of support from New Democrats federaly.

Cons: He is a Liberal MP, enough said.

Analysis: I would be kind of surprised if Ralph jumped ship (I think he has his eye on the Federal Leadership next time around) but I heard his name mentioned by a number of people in Regina so I am including him on my list.

Larry Hubich

Pros: Name recognition, support of the labour movement.

Cons: TOO tied to labour, no electoral experience.

Analysis: I have heard from a reliable source that Hubich is feeling out some people as to his chances should he run. I doubt he will, particularly if there are other acceptable labour candidates (such as Higgins)

EDIT: Mr. Hubich himself tells me I am wrong, I apologize and withdraw my remarks.

Pat Fiacco

Pros: Popular Mayor, name recognition.

Cons: Viewed as "far right" by many in the party, not a member (that I know of), and I don't know what his popularity outside of Regina is.

Analysis: It is not as if the NDP needs to make a breakthrough in Regina or anything, so I am not sure what the appeal of Fiacco is. Nevertheless, I have heard his name tossed around by a number of very senior party officials so I can only assume there is something there. I don't know if he is interested and I doubt very much he could win the race, but an interesting name anyway.


I am also hearing rumours about some doctor in Saskatoon who's name escapes me at the moment. I have heard from the Riversdale executive up there that there is a doctor (I belive involved with the Station 20 group) that is considering running to replace Calvert both in Riversdale and possibly as leader, but I have scant information and can't even remember the name I was told.

I doubt that either Scott Banda or Joanne Crowford (who ran last time) would be interested again and I don't know if Buckley Belanger would make another run either (knowing he probably wouldn't win but again doing it for good reasons). There are also the two other newer MLA's, Trent Wotherspoon and Darcy furber and I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of them threw their hat in the ring just for name-recognition purposes.

I would also be that there is someone who will run who is not on this list (but I don't know who)

I don't know how many of these people (if any) will end up running. But I am sure of a couple of things, that there will be 4 or 5 strong candidates, and that we won't have to look around in desperation like the provincial Liberals :-)