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EDITORIAL: Do the Liberals have that heavy hitter?

The word coming out of the Liberal party's annual convention in Gander June 13-15 had a dozen candidates seeking nomination papers with intent to run in the electoral district of Port de Grave.

Compass reporter/photographer Nicholas Mercer.

In reality, that number was a smokescreen.

In the days following the convention, 12 shrank to five as reported by this publication (see related story).

Now, that could shrink to four - as of deadline Friday Howard Smith was still weighing his options - or balloon too as many as seven. Nominations have yet to open officially, so it's anyone's guess really.

So far, we know Spaniard's Bay councillor Tony Menchions, former journalist Pam Parsons, Lee Efford and Justin Butler have declared their interest in running for the Liberals.

Efford and Butler are particularly interesting names, especially their last ones.

Lee is the son of well-known former politician John Efford, while Justin is the grandson of the last Liberal to hold the Port de Grave seat, Roland Butler.

Looking at the list, it will be interesting to see which way the party swings when it comes time to select a representative.

Each of them are sure to bring a different set of skills to the job.

To many, the Liberals seemed poised to snatch the reins from the Tories and run the province once the next provincial election finishes up in 2015.

As the Progressive Conservative party appears to be disintegrating in front of our eyes, Liberal leader Dwight Ball, chiseled chin and all, appears set to become the next elected premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Things are looking up for the official opposition.

Port de Grave has been a key Liberal stronghold in the past. Prior to current MHA Glenn Littlejohn's victory in 2011, the district saw a pair of powerhouse MHAs in John Efford and Roland Butler occupy the seat.

But the question has to be asked, as it looks right now is there a name there that could topple Littlejohn?

Does the Liberal party have a middle-of-the-order home run hitter who will wrestle the district from the Tories' grasp?

Since winning the district three years ago, Littlejohn has been steadily building his portfolio.

To some, he has become a stronger Progressive candidate than he was four years ago.

It'll take a big stick to knock Littlejohn and it is unsure if any of the candidates listed above carries that big stick.

Each one them will win their fair share of votes no doubt, but will they get enough to reclaim the seat?

It's a long ways away and its anyone's guess, really.

One thing not working in Littlejohn's favour will be public perception surrounding the Progressive Conservatives at the moment.

Will that have an affect a year from now?

Unless you're harbouring a crystal ball, there's no way of knowing that.

He, being Littlejohn, is a recognizable name in the region and it carries weight. It's an advantage Efford and Butler share with him.

Voters will recognize those names from years past.

Menchions and Parsons will have to work hard to push their names outside of their circles. They have a year to do so, should they be elected by the Liberal party and given the chance to go for the seat.

Regardless of who is chosen, Littlejohn will be a formidable test to pass in order to regain the district.

Even with the apparent lack of trust in the current government, he will have the advantage of being a well-known name in the district's biggest municipality.

Can it be done?

Who knows.

Will be be fun to watch?

You know it.

- Nicholas Mercer is a reporter/photographer with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at

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