And they're off: Liberal leadership voting starts
37,000 eligible to vote as party prepares to pick leader for next election
Voting for the leadership of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party began on Friday morning and will continue through Nov. 17.
As of 8 a.m, those registered have the option of voting online, by telephone or cell phone.
More than 37,000 are eligible to vote, and includes members and supporters in good standing who are residents of the province.
A winner will be declared on Nov. 17.
There are five candidates for the party's top job: Paul Antle, Dwight Ball, Cathy Bennett, Jim Bennett and Danny Dumaresque. Former premier Roger Grimes and many other Liberals feel that Antle, Ball and Cathy Bennett are the frontrunners.
The leadership race comes as the Liberals have reclaimed the top position in public opinion polls for the first time in more than a decade.
Who are veteran Liberals supporting?
Each of the candidates has been relying on high-profile support to woo voters. MPs, MHAs and other prominent Liberals have been campaigning for their favoured candidates.
Liberal MP Judy Foote is supporting Dwight Ball, the Humber Valley MHA who stepped down in July as interim leader when he entered the race to become the permanent leader.
"Clearly there is proven leadership there," Foote said.
"What Dwight brings to the race is a track record, not just in business, he's a sound business individual, but as well his experience in the political realm," she said, adding Ball helped run the party when the Liberals trailed the Tories and NDP.
"The fact he's brought the party where it is – he's been in the trenches – he was there when no one else would take it."
Liberal MP Scott Andrews is giving his support to St. John's businessman and long-time Liberal organizer Paul Antle.
"He represents real change for the Liberal Party, and that's what we're hearing across Newfoundland and Labrador that we want change within the Liberal party ... we want a change of government as well, and Paul represents that," Andrews said.
"His image, his business background, he's got the complete package to move forward and to win this for the Liberal party."
Meanwhile, former Liberal MP Siobhan Coady is supporting Cathy Bennett, the St. John's businesswoman.
"She's articulate, she's intelligent, she's tenacious, she is a proven leader, she's one of the top 25 women in Canada ... and she's won the entrepreneur of the year award for Atlantic Canada," said Coady.
"I like what she has to say about policy. I like she wrote a paper on how she would improve the Liberal party to ensure victory in 2015, and she's talked a lot about policy in this race."
During the leadership race, there were several debates, with the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project often a hot-button topic.