But I'd think the most important number may be a low rather than a high. Cam Broten's $4,292.25 December take was the smallest for any candidate in any month of the campaign - and combining that further drop with Broten's already-sluggish fund-raising, I have to wonder for the first time whether he'll have to run the rest of his campaign with a substantially smaller budget than the party's already-modest spending limit.
- Broten supporter Mitchell Anderson earned some free media space to respond to Yens Pedersen's earlier contribution to the Star-Phoenix. But I'm not sure he particularly challenged Pedersen's main point that political parties can pursue change both by winning power and by influencing public discussion about policy issues.
- Jason Warick reported on the Rosetown leadership debate. But more interesting than his skeletal review of the debate itself was this bit of discussion about the NDP's road back toward success in rural Saskatchewan:
For much of the 1980s, the Grant Devine Progressive Conservative (PC) administration was seen as invincible in most parts of rural Saskatchewan. But soaring interest rates, unpopular policies and a widespread financial scandal reduced the PCs to just 10 seats in the 1991 election.- While Murray Mandryk's take on the race includes plenty of utterly gratuitous potshots, he does hint at one important theme which I've discussed before. At a time when all of the candidates are talking about a need to reach out beyond the NDP's current level of support, at most one or two have made any visible progress in growing the party's grassroots during the leadership campaign - while much of the leadership campaign strategy seems to have been based on competing for small pieces of the existing party base.
That year in Rosetown, Wiens narrowly defeated former PC cabinet minister and legislative speaker Herbert Swan. Wiens then comfortably won re-election.
Wiens believes there are signs the NDP could find electoral success in rural Saskatchewan.
"There are nicks and cracks showing up in the current government, and we've got a new generation (of candidates)," Wiens said.
"I am encouraged."
Another area farmer and former NDP leadership candidate, Nettie Wiebe, also attended and agreed there is cause for optimism.
"We are always on the edge of possibilities in a democracy," said Wiebe, who teaches at the University of Saskatchewan. "I am very impressed with the depth. I think it's a very strong field."
- But lest anybody buy the story that the candidates are refusing to reach out beyond the NDP's core membership, all four have been appearing on John Gormley's radio show over the course of the week. I haven't yet had a chance to listen through in detail, but those interested can find the interviews here [Updated with Broten's at first link].
[Edit: fixed reference to Warick.]