Steve Porter made history on Thursday night.
He defeated an incumbent in the House of Assembly - Rex Hillier - in a party nomination fight. This doesn’t happen very often, mostly because political parties in Newfoundland and Labrador have seldom held nomination contests at the district level involving incumbents.
That isn’t a function of the lack of interest among prospective politicians. It’s just been the practice to grant incumbents a lock on the district once they win the nomination the first time. That’s one of the reasons why local politics can’t really be considered to be highly competitive. The parties restrict the opportunities for challengers to enter the fray.
Porter tried for the nomination before and lost to Hillier in a squeaker. He didn’t put together a strong get-out-the-vote operation the last time and wanted to give it another go. This time around Porter had some help from experienced campaigners. It made a difference.
Aside from the specifics of this particular situation, contested nominations are an important way of refreshing a political party. The competition keeps everyone on their toes.