Sean Casey is coming out of the shadows of the Liberal party’s backroom and into the spotlight after winning the federal Liberal party’s nomination during a convention in Charlottetown Thursday night.
The 47-year-old former president of the Liberal Party of P.E.I. was unopposed in his bid to be the Liberal candidate in the riding of Charlottetown. He will be on the ballot for the next federal election widely expected to be held in early May.
Casey says by coming out early, he might have scared off some of the competition for the post, which pays a base salary of $157,000 annually.
“I think part of it is the relative youth of the provincial government, by that I mean the most electable Liberals have been elected provincially and they haven’t been there very long,” Casey said in an interview.
“My sense is that if this nominating convention was four or five years from now that there would be a big lineup (for the job).”
Casey, a lawyer, is married to Kathleen Casey, who is a Liberal MLA and Speaker of the P.E.I. legislature. His family owns Paderno, the Island-based kitchen store and pot maker.
He replaces Shawn Murphy, who announced last October that he was bowing out of public office after 10 years.
Murphy will still represent the riding of Charlottetown until the next election is called.
Casey denies he was asked to run to hold the seat for Premier Robert Ghiz, who was one of a long list of provincial MLAs rumoured to want to run federally. Environment Minister Richard Brown, Education Minister Doug Currie and backbencher Robert Mitchell were also said to be considering a jump to federal politics.
“I find it pretty funny, to be honest with you. I want this, I absolutely do and that’s the reason why I came out early, why I have been working the phones solid ever since and why I am leaving my law practise (Friday) to go campaigning full-time.”
About 200 people packed into the small auditorium at The Guild in Charlottetown for the nominating convention, which meant it was standing room only.
"... I want this, I absolutely do and that’s the reason why I came out early, why I have been working the phones solid ever since and why I am leaving my law practise (Friday) to go campaigning full-time,” - Sean Casey, Charlottetown Liberal candidate
Scott Brison, a Liberal MP from Kings Hants, Nova Scotia and a special guest at the nominating convention, said the Liberal party can and will win the next election.
“We’re seeing a lot of toing and froing between (NDP Leader) Jack Layton and Stephen Harper right now,” said Brison.
“We don’t know whether the budget will pass or whether we’ll have an election. We could have an election within weeks or within months. We don’t know. But we’re ready.”
Murphy is confident Casey can hold on to the riding for the Liberals.
“(Casey) will make a great member of parliament for this district,” he said.
Jordan Brown, president of the Liberal riding association in Charlottetown, said he’s confident Casey can keep the riding Liberal red. He described Casey as a “cream of the crop” candidate that may have deterred other candidates from coming forward.
“I’m not going to say it would dissuade other people from coming but they’re comfortable the job will be done and the job will be done correctly.”
The slate of candidates is nearly in place for the next election in the riding of Charlottetown.
Donna Profit will represent the Conservatives while Joe Byrne will carrying the colours for the NDP.
“I expect there will be an election called next month and I am proceeding on that basis,” Casey said during his address.
“I take nothing for granted. Tomorrow, I start door-to-door campaigning, and I am going to make my first election promise that I will not be outworked. It will not be easy, and I will need the help and support of each and every one of you.”
Wayne Thibodeau was live tweeting from the Liberal nominating convention Thursday night. Read the play-by-play at twitter.com/guardianwayne