Ryan Cleary, Earle McCurdy considering bids for NDP leadership

NDP MP Ryan Cleary says he's considering a bid for the leadership of the provincial New Democrats, but first wants to see how things develop before making a decision.

Former exec Chris Bruce seriously considering leadership bid

St. John's South-Mount Pearl MP Ryan Cleary says he's waiting to see how things turn out before deciding if he'll seek the provincial party leadership. (CBC)

The MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl says he's waiting to see how things play out in the leadership for the provincial New Democrats, before deciding if he'll put his name in the running.

Ryan Cleary previously said he would consider seeking the provincial leadership.

Lorraine Michael announced Tuesday that she would be stepping down from the NDP leadership, once a new leader was chosen.

"Have I considered, over the last few days, running for leader of the New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador? Absolutely. At the same time, I am the nominated candidate for St. John's South-Mount Pearl," Cleary told CBC News Wednesday.

I guess what I'm getting to is, I'm waiting to get a lay of the political land.- Ryan Cleary

Cleary recently accepted the federal nomination to seek re-election in this fall's federal election, and is being challenged by Liberal candidate Seamus O'Regan.

He added that while he is considering a leadership bit, he wants to let things progress a little further before making a decision.

"I see a void — a leadership void. I'm looking to see who's going to step forward for the New Democratic Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I'm hoping that we have quality candidates step forward and put their names on the ballot," said Cleary.

"I guess what I'm getting to is, I'm waiting to get a lay of the political land."

McCurdy in? Maybe

Meanwhile, at least one other fairly well-known name in the province told CBC News Wednesday he was interested in looking at the NDP leadership.
Earle McCurdy, former head of the FFAW, says he's interested in running for the leadership of the NDP. (CBC)

Earle McCurdy, the former head of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, said he would need to gauge the amount of support he would receive if he formally put his name in the running.

"Since Lorraine Michael stepped down, I've had some calls — in fact, I had some prior to that, but there wasn't a vacancy at the time," said McCurdy.

"It's a serious decision, it's a job with a lot of responsibility, it's not something you rush in to … so I'm going to give it full consideration and reflection. It won't be imminent that I decide, but I will certainly think about it."

Former party exec considering running

Chris Bruce left the NDP executive shortly after a 2013 caucus revolt, saying he was upset with the way Michael was running the party.

Since her announcement Tuesday, Bruce, 26, said he's seriously considering a leadership bid and getting back in with the party.

"Her leadership style I did feel was a fundamental road block to my participation in the party," Bruce said.

He also tried to start his own party; last year, Bruce tried to start a Newfoundland and Labrador arm of the Green Party, which he said "just didn't get off the ground."

Bruce said he's meeting with current party members to see if looking at a leadership big is a "tenable idea."

'We fell hard'

With the province facing an uncertain economic future, St. John's Centre MHA Gerry Rogers says it's more important than ever to have New Democrats in the House of Assembly, championing social justice issues such as poverty, mental health and affordable housing.

But considering everything that's happened with the party over the past 14 months, including Michael's announcement Tuesday, Rogers admits it will be a challenge.
Gerry Rogers represents St. John's Centre in the House of Assembly. (CBC)

"We lost a lot. We fell hard. We fell hard and boy did we fall publicly and loudly," Rogers said during an interview Tuesday with On The Go.

The party has worked hard to regain public confidence since a very bitter caucus revolt that eventually led to the departure of two MHAs, and that process must continue, Rogers added.

"I've put my nose to the grindstone and worked really hard because I knew the great damage that was done because of this," she said.

"The only way that we can do that is to continue to do the important work that we've been doing."

Despite those efforts, the party has failed to rebound, losing four straight byelections since reaffirming Michael as leader last spring, and plummeting in public opinion polls.

Michael admitted during her announcement that the party's messages were being overshadowed by questions about her leadership and whether the party was even relevant.

Falling from great heights

It's a dismal picture from the one painted following the 2011 provincial general election,

The NDP emerged with five elected members — the most in its history — and narrowly missed out on becoming the Official Opposition.

In the summer of 2012, the NDP made history by leapfrogging the Tories into first place in a province-wide public opinion poll.

Suddenly, some were even suggesting that the party might eventually challenge for the government.

But the political house of cards began to collapse in the fall of 2013 when four members of the caucus signed a letter to Michael, asking that there be a leadership convention in 2014.

"We collectively make this request out of genuine concern for our party's ability to attract quality candidates and build on our level of public support in advance of the 2015 election …," the letter stated. 

The letter was leaked to the media, with Michael saying she felt "betrayed" by the letter.

More than two months later, Dale Kirby (St. John's North) and Chris Mitchelmore (Straits-White Bay North) cut ties with the party, and later defected to the Opposition Liberals.

I've learned a lot from Lorraine. I have watched her, even under ridicule, be so incredibly courageous bringing the voices of the people to the table.- Gerry Rogers

Rogers and fellow MHA George Murphy (St. John's East) expressed regret about the situation, and stood behind Michael.

"It was a very uninformed and perhaps ill-advised way to deal with what were good intentions," Rogers said.

"I've learned a lot since about the real difficulties and challenges of leadership."

Did Lorraine Michael wait too long?

It's been suggested that the party's collapse may have been avoided if Michael had stepped down as leader in late 2013.

When asked whether she agreed with that, Rogers would only says she's "looking forward to moving on and moving forward."

She also expressed admiration for Michael.

"I've learned a lot from Lorraine. I have watched her, even under ridicule, be so incredibly courageous bringing the voices of the people to the table."

Michael is not resigning as the MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, and plans to run in the upcoming general election.

Rogers looks forward to continuing to work with Michael, saying she has "raised the bar" in the House of Assembly.

"She entered that house every day with integrity, courage and commitment and with a passion for the rights of the people of the province."

As for whether she has any leadership aspirations, Rogers said she will decide soon.

"I have to look at what are my skills and what can I bring to the table. It's too soon to have that discussion," she said.

With files from Todd O'Brien and Terry Roberts