Friday, November 30, 2012

#skndpldr - Endorsement Notes

As I've noted before, I tend to see leadership endorsements as involving diminishing returns: once a candidate has enough support to be seen as a viable contender, additional names on a list of endorsers are unlikely to have any substantial impact unless they play significantly against some widely-known expectation. And since I see all of the candidates as having met that initial threshold, I haven't been tracking endorsements all that closely in the Saskatchewan NDP's leadership race.

But while the list of names may not be so important, the content of endorsements may be somewhat more worthy of discussion - particularly to the extent supporters may make points outside a candidate's own message track. So let's take a quick look at examples of each candidate's announced endorsements on that front.

Cam Broten's endorsements include this from Ken Crush, discussing the fact that Broten's interest and involvement in building the NDP's rural presence is far from new:
Cam has been our buddy MLA for the last 5 years and has consistently served our constituency well. He is well respected by the small town media and often sought after by the local papers for his input on various provincial issues. He has also been an influential leader in our party over the last few years chairing and co-chairing many committees, including our party's policy review process where members of our party and the public participated in policy development. Cam is interested in what matters to people. He has a unique ability to listen, understand and act on issues whether they are raised by seniors, students, farmers, immigrants, workers or business people.
While the latter portion of Crush's endorsement could be taken directly from a campaign bio, the first two sentences in particular draw a noteworthy link between Broten's work in Biggar and some of the most important roles of a leader.

In contrast to Broten's focus on the NDP as it stands, Ryan Meili's featured endorsements deal largely with the party as it might be - with U of S professor Alexander Irving's message of support particularly standing out as a strong statement of values which extend beyond party lines and provincial borders:
Ryan is the best chance, here, for us to return to the social democratic vision that the province, country, and world need so badly. There is no doubt that Ryan cares deeply about people, Mother Earth, and society – he has 'walked that walk' as a healer many times. He will work best with social movements not neo-liberal corporations.
Interestingly, Erin Weir's endorsements look to be the ones most patterned on his campaign messages - and indeed his "party activist" list is limited to names alone. But Dick Proctor's offering includes some addition insight into Weir's past experience and effectiveness as a candidate:
Erin and I shared a campaign office in Regina during the 2004 federal election, when he ran in Wascana against Ralph Goodale. Although that was a difficult election for New Democrats in Saskatchewan and Erin was up against the Minister of Finance, he put together an effective team and campaigned energetically. I have seen up close his work ethic and ability to collaborate with others. These qualities would serve him well as the next Saskatchewan NDP leader.
Finally, while a leadership campaign inevitably tests a candidate's presentation as a speaker, Trent Wotherspoon's personal endorsements largely focus on his listening ability - with Marion Hewitt Pollock's comment serving as an example:
When you're speaking, you know Trent is listening.  It doesn't matter how crowded the room, or busy the moment, he is engaging and thoughtful.  He is the kind of community-minded innovator that our province needs. I know Trent is going to include and value all of our voices in his leadership bid and beyond.
Overall, Meili's highlighted endorsements stand out as reflecting more personal statements than those of the other candidates - which allows for the possibility that a wider range of potential voters may find something in his endorsements as a basis for either agreement or disagreement. And it will bear watching whether the other candidates or (particularly) outside parties try to drive wedges between candidates and supporters by focusing on the latter.

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