Diana Whalen says she wants to breathe new life into the Liberal party. ((CBC))

Diana Whalen confirmed Thursday she's running for the leadership of Nova Scotia's Liberal party, the first caucus member in the race.

Whalen, 51,theMLA for Halifax-Clayton Park and the only woman in the Liberal caucus, told supporters she wants to lead the Liberalsto breathe new life into the party.

"I'm here to provide the type of leadership that will invite many people to help us to strengthen our party and to build for the future," she said.

"I have demonstrated the ability to bring people together, people with divergent views, and get results," Whalen added, noting she has won her seat twice.

Many supporters, includingDiane Bell, are pleased to see a woman running for the party's top job.

"I think it is significant, a woman running, and I think it is a positive," said Bell.

Rafah Dicostanzo said she believes Whalen is a wonderful person, someone to support not just because she's a woman.

No caucus colleagues at launch

Not a single member of the Liberal caucus was atthe campaign launch Thursday, but Whalen saidthat doesn't bother her.

"I work very well with all members of caucus and we have a good working relationship, so I look forward to seeing some of them as we get going along."

The important thing is to bring innew Liberal members, said Whalen.

Bernie Boudreau, a cabinet minister in John Savage'sgovernment,backs Whalen and said high-profile support never helped him win the top job in 1997.

"I can recall a leadership where one particular candidate had virtually every one from caucus and cabinet, and the result was not good," Boudreau said.

Whalen said she's taking on the challenge of leading the third-party Liberals with the understanding that if she gets the job, she'll devote the next decade to it.

The party's top job has been a revolving door of leaders in thepast 10 years.

RichmondMLA Michel Samson has been acting leader since June, when Francis MacKenzie stepped down after failing to win his seat in the provincial election.

MacKenzie was chosen leader in October 2004 after Danny Graham resigned to care for his late wife who was battling cancer.

Only one other candidate

The only other candidate so far is Colchester County Mayor Mike Smith, who launched his campaign last week.

Lawyer Kenzie MacKinnonplans to announce his intentionsFriday. Annapolis MLA Stephen McNeil is also a possible candidate.

The deadline to join the Liberal leadership race isFeb. 15.

The Liberals hold nine seats at the legislature, compared to 23 for the Progressive Conservatives and 20 for the New Democrats.