St. John's businesswoman Cathy Bennett has confirmed she wants to be the next leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Bennett, who has said she would make a decision early this week, confirmed her candidacy for the party's top job through Twitter late Monday night.
"Time to take my energy/passion for NL to a new place — #Liberal leadership," Bennett tweeted, adding she would run with "the support of family, Liberals & Team Cathy."
Bennett will officially launch her candidacy 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Capital Hotel in St. John's.
The deadline to enter the race is Friday. A permanent leader will be chosen at the party's convention in St. John’s in November.
Interim leader Dwight Ball and St. Barbe MHA Jim Bennett — no relation to Cathy Bennett — had been the only declared candidates to date.
Former MHA Danny Dumaresque is also considering a run, and Charles Murphy, a businessman from Irishtown-Summerside, has said he plans enter the race.
Cathy Bennett's resume includes involvement with a long list of companies in a variety of sectors, according to her LinkedIn profile.
She is the owner/operator of Bennett Restaurants, which operates eight McDonald’s locations in the St. John’s area. She's also CEO of the Bennett Group of Companies, which employs more than 300 workers.
In addition to the restaurant industry, the Bennett Group has stakes in commercial and residential real estate properties and commercial renovation projects.
Bennett is the Eastern Canada president for Diamond Global Recruitment Group Inc., director of New Millennium Iron Corp., director of The Shaw Group of Companies, and a board member of Bell Aliant.
She has served as a governor with the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council for the past five years, and treasurer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce for the past three.
Bennett was president of the St. John’s Board of Trade in 2007, and logged nearly five years on the board of Nalcor Energy before stepping down last year.
She is listed as a supporter of the Muskrat Falls hydro project on the "I Believe in the Power of N.L." website. The Liberals have been critical of the project.
Cool reception from party stalwarts
A recent poll showed a spike in support for the provincial Liberals.
In May, Halifax-based Corporate Research Associates found that the Liberals had the support of 36 per cent of decided voters, in a statistical tie for first place with the NDP. The governing Tories dropped to third, with 27 per cent support.
Some longtime Liberals have criticized Bennett for showing interest in a party she has no history with.
Bennett does have a history, however, of donating money to the provincial PC party.