The race to become the next premier of Newfoundland and Labrador will come down to three caucus outsiders — all from western Newfoundland.
Behind the scenes there was a flurry of activity in the 24 hours leading up to the PC Party’s noon deadline but when the dust settled, nobody from the Tory caucus stepped forward to make a run for the top job.
Frank Coleman, Bill Barry, and Wayne Bennett are the three candidates who have submitted nomination packages for the leadership.
Coleman, a businessman from Corner Brook, announced late Thursday evening that he’s running.
Then, in quick succession, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent and former minister Shawn Skinner both bowed out.
“I was doing extensive phone calling and talking to party members as well as cabinet and caucus,” he said. “Bottom line is I felt that the level of support I would need to enter the race was not there for me. People were waiting on Mr. Coleman and I felt that he was the first choice of many I spoke with. They were looking for someone outside the caucus, a new face and he was that choice for them.”
Rumours had been circulating for weeks that Coleman is considering a run for the party leadership, and he’s widely believed to have the backing of former premier Danny Williams, and by extension, many members of the government caucus.
Coleman has not done any media interviews, and only issued a brief statement after filing his nomination papers.
“I am very excited about this new challenge in my life and I look forward to earning the confidence of the people of this great province,” he said.
Fellow Corner Brook businessman Bill Barry announced weeks ago that he’s running for the leadership.
The third contender is Wayne Bennett, who is widely seen as a dark-horse candidate.
Bennett told the Telegram that he’s been involved with the PC Party since he was 12-years-old, and he believes that the party needs to make radical changes to win the next election.