We're now approaching the home stretch of Saskatchewan's NDP leadership race - with the membership deadline looming in just over two weeks, and under two months left until the vote itself. But while there will be plenty of news to cover in that time, let's take a look back at how each candidate's campaign has progressed so far - starting with Cam Broten.
At the start, I noted that Broten's most likely path to victory was as an everybody's-second-choice type of candidate. And his campaign thus far has largely followed that strategy.
On the bright side for Broten, he's been a consistently competent performer in the leadership debates, combining effective statements of values and messages about inclusion and unity with strong responses when he's been challenged on particular issues. And he's certainly made efforts to rise above the leadership race itself to speak to shared party interests.
Meanwhile, within the campaign itself Broten has managed to generate at least some flow of activity alongside the debate schedule, with particular emphasis on a slightly wider range of endorsements than would have anticipated. And as a wild card for the balance of the campaign, Broten had more cash on hand than his opponents at last notice.
That said, it's fairly striking that Broten's strengths have developed in the absence of much obvious activity out of his campaign aside from rolling out endorsements.
Broten's edge in cash on hand as of the end of November was based on his having spent less than Ryan Meili and Trent Wotherspoon. But his third-place ranking in fund-raising (with a total substantially closer to Erin Weir in fourth than the candidates ahead of him) leaves room for question as to how much grassroots enthusiasm his campaign is actually generating, particularly in light of his moderate-at-best rankings in other publicly-available metrics such as Facebook and Twitter supporters and activity.
Now, one can make the case that a second-choice campaign might have some strategic incentives to hide its true strength so as to avoid attracting too much negative attention. But I have trouble seeing it as a plus for a campaign if its best-case scenario involves laying low and concealing support rather than building momentum this close to the membership and voting deadlines. And if Broten isn't able to make some strides at the grassroots level over the next month, there's reason to wonder whether any amount of down-ballot support will matter.