MacDonald bailed on the contest last November. He had business stuff to deal with. He had family stuff. All the usual excuses.
Now that the polls have shifted, the family and the business are apparently not such a problem any more and Dean and/or some backroom boys want his ass on an ass headed for Capital City.
Last November, SRBP described Deanny this way:
But as far as leadership goes, or even his Liberal ties, Dean MacDonald was more the stuff of some people’s overactive imaginations than the real deal. He showed no signs of getting ready for the race or the job.
That’s pretty much the thing about Dean to date: from his lame speeches to his train wreck about provincial finances on Twitter last fall, MacDonald lacked any sign of being genuinely interested in the provincial Liberal leadership or having the substance it would take to offer a credible challenger to any incumbent Premier.
The only thing that seems to have changed in the meantime has been the publicly available polls. Here are some things to watch for if Deanny announces his leadership bid within the next couple of weeks:
Delivery: Look to see if MacDonald offers a speech or two with something beyond a few vague platitudes and blinding insights into the obvious. MacDonald will need to show some substance, even if only for a second, if he intends to run and win the big prize.
Baggage: MacDonald has tons of it. He stabbed the Liberals in the back in 2002 and – as it turns out – was wrong about his condemnation of the deal to develop the Lower Churchill.
His love of Muskrat Falls makes him a clone of any of the current Conservatives and therefore an easy target for the New Democrats and the Conservatives.
The two things together – crapping on the money-maker while backing the crap-load of debt – also brings his business judgment into serious question.
Then there’s what Deanny was doing for the past decade. While the Liberals he fucked over languished with debt and other problems, MacDonald spent a nice chunk of the past 10 years working for the Conservatives. Those would be the same Conservatives who created the current financial mess he now finds so troublesome. Back then he loved them. Now, not so much.
MacDonald only surfaced again in public as a supposed Liberal when it looked like the premiership might be within easy reach. When it wasn’t a cakewalk, Deanny bailed. Now that the Conservatives are on the ropes, he’s back, baggage and all.
Coronation: If past practice was any guide, the backroom boys working with Dean are likely already working on key players inside the party to get their endorsement of Deanny when he roles the rock aside. The same gang would also be looking at potential leadership rivals like Danny Dumaresque and Jim Bennett to park their own ambitions, endorse the saviour, and collect their reward after the next election if Deanny wins.
They will likely try some arguments about the need to avoid a leadership fight, including the prospect of division in the party, the chances the Tories might go to an election quickly, and the promise that Dean can wipe out the party’s debt with a snap of his fingers.
The Leader needs a Seat: Where would Leader Dean run? That’s one thing the Liberals couldn’t deliver for sure. They’d need to get one of their own to give up a seat and then gamble on winning the by-election. There aren’t too many safe Liberal seats in the caucus already. If they could persuade Ed Joyce, Dwight Ball, or Jim Bennett to resign for Deanny, the back-room Liberals would need a Tory to bail early. Don’t hold your breath on that one. The hard core Connies would pay someone in their caucus not to resign just to screw MacDonald over.
The Liberals might luck out if they got a few Ross Wisemans. Yes, friends, we could be looking at …
Floor Crossing: If the Liberals look like they are on a roll – with or without Dean – the prospect grows that all those disaffected Tories on the backbenches will leave the Conservatives. A by-election win on Tuesday might help that help that. Tom Osborne, for one, could move to the Liberals comfortably. One of the latter-day Rosses might give up his or her seat for Dean. Bit of a stretch, but it would be possible.
Magic Man: People trying to sell Deanny as the new messiah can find a persuasive argument in Deanny’s potential appeal in the part of the province the Liberals abandoned after 2005.
There are plenty of people who are defecting from the Conservatives, mostly in the metro St. John’s area, but who don’t want the New Democrats. The Liberals have been picking up former Conservatives in rural Newfoundland. They haven’t had much luck among the townies. Deanny’s appeal to the business community in St. John’s could accelerate that shift. If the Board of Trade likes him – and you know they will - Deanny’s people could sell him as the guy who could spark a shift to the Liberals in metro. The main message here would be that Dean would be an easy solution to a huge problem for the Liberals. Some will tout Dean as the fulfillment of all those prophecies built around “and then, magic happens.”
Time and the Other Parties: Both the Conservatives and New Democrats will change their leaders before 2015. With Deanny as Liberal leader, they’d know what their opposition looks like and can chose accordingly.
Dean might not have as easy a ride as some think.
And of course, there’s no guarantee Dwight Ball will cave in for a coronation. Ball might actually be able to beat MacDonald in a stand-up leadership fight.
Then it would be on to the election.
Two Words: John Turner.
The golden boy, heir apparent, business wiz of legend sometimes turns out to be a dud.