Gregory Beatty raises some noteworthy possibilities as to how Ryan Meili's entry into the Saskatoon-Meewasin by-election may reverberate in Saskatchewan's broader political scene. But there are a few more potential effects worth pointing out.
For some time, there's been a generally-unexplained combination of dismissiveness and negativity toward Meili in some corners of the media, typically backed by anonymous NDP sources. And the point most frequently used to challenge him as a potential leader has been the lack of a seat in the Legislature (generally combined with some comment about how he should have pursued one sooner).
Needless to say, a run and win in Saskatoon-Meewasin would put an end to that talking point. But what would happen to the more general perceptions of Meili?
At this point, I'm fairly optimistic that the NDP as an institution is learning some lessons about working together, and that the combination of traditional party support and newly-motivated voters could propel Meili toward winning the seat. But the Saskatchewan Party will have a choice of its own to make based on whether it agrees with any criticisms of Meili's prospects as a leader.
If Brad Wall and company think there's some advantage in having Meili as a primary opponent, then they'd be best served not to put a great deal of effort into opposing him in Saskatoon-Meewasin. That would both allow them to claim the public shouldn't read too much into their own loss of the seat, and position Meili as a strong favourite in the NDP leadership campaign.
If, on the other hand, the Saskatchewan Party disagrees with the theory that they're better off facing Meili than other prospective NDP leaders, then their obvious response would be to leave no stone unturned in trying to keep him out of the Legislature.
Based on that choice, we should find out very shortly how the people with the most skin in the game actually see Meili's future as a leader. And if they confirm their recognition of Meili's potential by choosing the latter course of action, then the press won't have any excuse for trying to marginalize him.