Murray Mandryk of the Leader Post has some thoughts on the unofficial jockeying for position that’s happening behind-the-scenes as potential candidates position themselves for a run at the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP. (I think candidates can officially begin announcing next month maybe?)
Based on Mandryk’s article, here are the presumed candidates (alphabetically) with what I see as their main strengths and weaknesses in my (admittedly limited) view:
Strength: Easily the most experienced of the potential candidates.
Weakness: The NDP is ready for an Aboriginal leader but I’m not sure if the province is.
Strength: I have to be honest. Cam is probably the candidate I know the least about of the four “big” names (even compared to Erin Weir who I’ve read articles by and seen on TV.) So I can’t really speak to Broten’s strengths. Mandryk says he’s arguably been the best performer of the small but mighty NDP caucus and simply being a sitting MLA is presumably an advantage in the eyes of some NDP members who will be voting for the next party leader.
Weakness: Mandryk also observed that Broten has the least “trust” as he doesn’t seem to have gotten a team around him. I don’t know how much truth there is to this as Mandryk’s based in Regina so perhaps isn’t as plugged in to what Broten’s supporters are doing behind-the-scenes in Saskatoon as the other candidates, all of whom already have vocal Regina-based supporters? But if that’s true, it doesn’t bode well for his chances.
Strength: I personally don’t like having token candidates but there are some I’ve talked to who feel the race needs a female to run and would vote for a female candidate on that basis alone. I wouldn’t base an entire campaign on having two x chromosomes but it could be a starting point for a broader appeal?
Weakness: Even though she has the advantage of being a sitting MLA, she arguably has the lowest profile of any of the potential candidates including Ryan Meili who is well-known from his last leadership run and Erin Weir who has had lots of national media coverage as a pundit on various shows.
Strength: Well, I’m biased as a Ryan supporter but I still believe he’s the only potential candidate I’ve seen with the potential to be a transformative leader for our province.
Weakness: A lot of people (including Mandryk) think that Ryan dropping out of the race for the Saskatoon-Sutherland nomination is a weakness but personally, I think that’s inside baseball that only the people who live & breathe politics care about. Even among the general membership of the NDP, I doubt most people would care about this too much. So for me, Ryan’s lack of actual political experience is probably his biggest weakness.
Strength: Broten may be a better performer bur arguably, Trent has seemed to have a higher profile of the two (and based on the traveling he’s already doing around the province according to his Facebook page, I’d agree with Mandryk that Wotherspoon is probably the front-runner at this point.)
Weakness: Mandryk’s right on the money that Wotherspoon’s close association with Dwain Lingenfelter will likely be toxic (okay, Mandryk may not have used that exact word!) to his leadership run given the post-apocalyptic state of the NDP after Link’s short reign.
Strength: For some, the fact that he’s a huge policy wonk and/or that he’s got an established national media profile will be big strengths for his campaign but I think that a strength is that he’s got potential to fill that “outsider who comes-out-of-nowhere” role that lifted Ryan Meili to a second place finish last time.
Weakness: In the same way that Ryan was an outsider to the party with little actual direct involvement with the NDP before his leadership race, Erin is similarly an outsider in that he’s got roots in the province but has been based outside of and built much of his profile beyond our borders, leaving him as more of an unknown commodity here.
The other thing in the mix is that there’s always potential for someone unexpected and/or unknown to jump into the race. I think Ryan Meili was that person last time so there could be someone else from the social justice movement or pretty much anywhere else that announces. Or perhaps, if the NDP hasn’t been burned by the “bring back a former star” experiment with Link, someone like say, former MLA Andrew Thomson, could shake things up by announcing. (Completely speculating there – just throwing out a name of a former rising star who was seen to have leadership ambitions at one point.)