It's official: PC leadership 2.0 has 3.0 candidates

Former cabinet ministers Paul Davis, Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer will compete for the PC leadership in September, the party said Monday.

Paul Davis, Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer heading to Sept. 13 Tory convention

John Ottenheimer, Paul Davis and Steve Kent are competing for the PC leadership. (CBC)

Former cabinet ministers Paul Davis, Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer will compete for Newfoundland and Labrador's Progressive Conservative leadership in September, the party said Monday. 

The deadline to enter the leadership passed at 12 noon NT, with the trio — who had each joined the race over the last two weeks — identified as the only contenders to meet entry requirements. 

Frank Coleman cancelled his campaign to become premier in June. (David Cochrane/CBC)
The party will spend much of the summer organizing delegate election meetings across the province, leading to a Sept. 13 leadership vote at the Delta Convention Centre in St. John's. 

The race is the second this year to find a new leader, and a new premier. Corner Brook businessman Frank Coleman abruptly cancelled his plans to lead the province last month, citing a "significant and challenging" family matter. 

Three candidates emerged in the first leadership race, called after Kathy Dunderdale quit as premier in January, although none came from the Tory caucus. Joining Coleman initially in that race were businessman Bill Barry and Howley town councillor Wayne Bennett.

Bennet was later thrown out of the race for offensive tweets and defamatory statements, while Barry dropped out just before Easter, complaining that he was up against a "stacked deck" because the Tory machinery was behind Coleman. 

From outsiders to insiders

The new race sees no outsiders in the running, with the three candidates instead coming from the party's established ranks. 

All three of the candidates have pledged to bring new ideas to the governing Tories, who have been been in power since 2003. 

Each has also said he wants to focus on uniting a party whose open fractures have become apparent, including tensions over how almost all the premier's staff were dismissed in advance of what was to have been Coleman's coronation. 

The party's new leadership deadline, though, fell just a couple of days of when Coleman had originally been scheduled to to take over as party leader. 

Instead, the province's PCs are realigning their plans for the coming weeks, with a focus on September's leadership election. 

"Some would say you couldn’t write the sequence of events like that if you were to try," Davis said last week. 

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