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A blogger and self-described political scientist forced a contest Monday for Newfoundland and Labrador's Progressive Conservative leadership, posing an unexpected challenge to Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

Brad Cabana filed papers late Monday morning, about an hour before the party's deadline.

But there are already questions about whether Cabana — a Random Island resident whose career history includes the mayoralty of a tiny Saskatchewan village — will be able to enter the race because of how he collected names for his nomination papers.

The Progressive Conservative Party said it would not count Cabana, the former mayor of Elstow, Sask., until it had verified the names of those who signed his nomination papers.

Political sources told CBC News Monday that many of the 73 names on Cabana's papers fail to meet the definition of a PC party member, as outlined in the party's own constitution. An eligible signature would need to come from a current or past member of a district executive, the provincial executive or a current or former member of the house of assembly.

Speaking with CBC News, Cabana insisted his nomination papers are in order and said he would go to court if the party rejects him.

'In it to win it': Cabana

Before Cabana's 11th-hour filing, Dunderdale had been the only candidate to declare for the Tory leadership and had claimed the full support of the 42-member governing caucus.

But Cabana, who runs a blog called Rock Solid Politics, said he hopes to continue the political style of Danny Williams, who retired as premier in December.

Cabana said he was "in it to win it" and that his bid for the leadership is not frivolous.

"I consider Danny Williams to be the father of modern Newfoundland and Labrador, but what I think I can do is take that battle to the next level, likely involving, you know, Ottawa and Quebec City," Cabana told reporters outside the PC party's headquarters.

Cabana has attracted national headlines over the years, including a 1990 campaign against the goods and services tax, and his flirting with seeking the national Tory leadership in 1998. He had been a champion of uniting the former national Progressive Conservative Party with the Reform Party.

The PC party will not declare Cabana an official candidate until it verifies the signatures on his nomination papers.

Earlier Monday, Joe Hickey — a Newfoundland-born but Ontario-based businessman — said he would not proceed with a challenge to Dunderdale after canvassing members of the party.

Dunderdale has said she will step aside as premier if a leadership race was necessary.

After she was sworn in last month, Dunderdale had said she intended to serve only until a leadership convention picked a new leader. However, she changed her mind after intense lobbying that included other cabinet ministers.

All other potential leadership candidates from the cabinet declined to enter the race, with each saying they would support Dunderdale.

The PCs have been in power since 2003. An election is scheduled through fixed-date legislation for this October.