Liberal mojo helps draw candidates out of the woodwork
Recruiters have no trouble finding would-be MHAs as next election draws closer
Just three years after struggling to find candidates in the last general election, Newfoundland and Labrador's Liberals are dealing with a very different problem: dealing with a surplus of would-be MHAs.
No less than a dozen potential candidates are competing for the Liberal nomination in the Conception Bay district of Port de Grave, which is currently held by Tory Glenn Littlejohn but historically held by the Liberals.
"Everybody wants to come out now and be a Liberal so it seems, but it bodes well for the party," she said.
At last weekend's convention in Gander, many potential candidates networked and obtained training for the next election, which will have to be held within a year of Frank Coleman taking over the leadership of the governing Progressive Conservatives next month.
The situation is a far change from the October 2013 election when the party had to put staffers on the ballot in some districts in order to ensure there was a full slate.
'Never seen this much interest'
Paul Antle, the St. John's businessman who placed second in last year's provincial leadership race, said recruiting candidates is much easier now.
"I never thought I would ever see anything like this," said Antle.
"In the history of our province, I've never seen this much interest in nominations as I've seen just in this last two or three months."
The Liberals have already started nominating candidates, with the first candidates coming from the existing caucus.
Another nomination battle is looming in the central Labrador electoral district of Lake Melville, which the Tories have held since forming the government in 2003. Tory backbencher Keith Russell is completing his first term.
Lori Dyson, who wants to compete for the Liberal nomination, thinks the party can take it back.
"There could be half a dozen people looking for the nomination and people are saying it's probably going to be harder to win the nomination than the actual election," said Dyson, who is married to Torngat Mountains MHA Randy Edmunds.
The Liberals plan to announce more nominations during the summer.
With files from Peter Cowan