Sask NDP Leadership Race (#Skndpldr)Profiled On Pundits' Guide
(A nice article on the #skndpldr race by national website 'Pundits Guide':
Meanwhile in Saskatoon, far from the radar of the national media, four leadership candidates completed the fourteenth and final debate in a six-month race to pick the next provincial leader of the NDP opposition, and likely the next premier of Saskatchewan.
[Photo credit: Greg Pender, Saskatoon Star Phoenix]
Like the federal Liberal Party, the Saskatchewan NDP had used its glory days as a crutch for one leadership campaign too many in 2009, when its old boys network engineered the installation of former deputy premier Dwain Lingenfelter as "the only one who could win". But a series of clumsy attack ads against the province's popular premier Brad Wall, coupled with Lingenfelter being the wrong leader to sell a decidedly left-wing opposition platform in the fall 2011 campaign, led to predictable results, and the party is now having the wide-open race it needed four years ago.
Featuring two MLAs with backgrounds in teaching (Trent Wotherspoon) and the provincial public service (Cam Broten), along with a medical doctor whose 2009 leadership run nearly caught Lingenfelter (Ryan Meili), and a nationally known labour economist (Erin Weir), the competitive race has featured a detailed and for the most part gentlemanly contest of ideas about resource royalty rates, the provincial tax system, rural farm ownership, the determinants of health, uranium mining, the emerging role of first nations youth in the province's economy and society, and lengthy discussion of how to rebuild and reinvent the party from the ground up.
While fundraising totals and social media counts give some indication of how active the various campaigns are on the ground relative to each other, in fact it possible to see a path to victory for nearly every candidate in the race, as two different recent polls suggest.
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The amounts being raised and spent are small by national standards – although it's fair to say that some of the provincial NDP candidates will have raised more than some of the federal Liberal candidates to date – but they're being reported on every month. And the number of eligible voters stands at 11,000 – not large, but likely greater than the number of federal Liberals enrolled in the province, and showing a large increase in the number of youth members. On the other hand, the lack of diversity in the Saskatchewan race – four white male candidates in their thirties – stands out starkly against the range of candidates seeking the federal Liberal helm, and is the all-too-predictable result of years wasted not recruiting sufficient numbers of women and diverse candidates in that section of the party, who would then be ready to step forward.
All four candidates are using NationBuilder as their website and online-organizing platform, by the way; a fortuitous coincidence that should assist the party in integrating the data from all four campaigns afterwards to help the rebuilding process.
It will be interesting to look back in five years, and see which of the two leadership races produced the greater change in their party's rebuilding and growth prospects.