Nova Scotia

Premier's chief of staff considering leadership run: sources

Laurie Graham, a reporter turned political staffer, is said to be making calls to gauge support for a leadership bid for the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. The winner automatically becomes premier.

Laurie Graham said to be gauging support for a bid to become premier

Multiple Nova Scotia Liberal Party sources tell CBC News that Laurie Graham, chief of staff to Premier Stephen McNeil, is measuring support for a run at the party's leadership. (Laurie Graham/Twitter)

Premier Stephen McNeil's chief of staff is considering taking a run at her boss's job.

Multiple sources within the Nova Scotia Liberal Party say Laurie Graham is mulling a run at the party leadership and is making calls to gauge support.

Sources say Graham could resign from her post as soon as this week to launch a campaign.

A spokesperson for the premier's office has said a cabinet minister entering the race would have to resign their post, and the same would apply to any staffers.

Graham did not immediately respond to phone and text messages.

The job of premier came up for grabs when McNeil announced last month that he would not seek re-election and has plans to resign.

The party has scheduled a leadership vote for Feb. 6. Interested parties have until Oct. 9 to enter the race.

Rules coming Monday

The entry fee is $60,000 and the detailed rules for the race will be released on Monday.

To date, Immigration Minister Lena Diab and Education Minister Zach Churchill have said they're considering leadership runs.

Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin and Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, who is the parliamentary secretary to the federal finance minister, have also said they're weighing their options.

Although she has not said it publicly, multiple party sources tell CBC that Community Services Minister Kelly Regan is also making calls to measure support for a leadership bid.

No political experience

Graham is the only person with no political experience to be linked to a leadership run thus far.

After working for several decades as a reporter for CBC and then CTV, some of that time spent covering federal politics in Ottawa, Graham left that job to return to Nova Scotia in 2016 to work as McNeil's principal secretary. She was eventually named chief of staff.

Although that is typically a behind-the-scenes post, Graham found herself thrust into the public spotlight last February amid questions about the way she handled information brought to her about drunk-driving allegations involving former Liberal MLA Hugh MacKay.

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