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The first candidate has thrown her hat into the ring for the NDP leadership. MUN economics professor Alison Coffin announced Wednesday she will run to replace Gerry Rogers. Coffin lost the party’s last leadership race to Rogers in 2018.

“It’s 10 months later than I had hoped to be leader, but the province needs a clear and strong alternative to the two old-school parties more than ever,” Coffin said today.

Coffin says she has been bombarded with messages since yesterday morning.

“All the people who supported me last spring are still there,” she said. “A lot of those were people who had given up on all three parties, and I am happy to welcome them back.”

In addition to the support from within the NDP, said Coffin, she has spoken with people formerly affiliated with the other two parties.

“Not surprisingly, a lot of Liberals are disappointed in Dwight Ball’s performance,” she said. “And the Tories who are more Progressive than Conservative are not entirely comfortable with their new leader.”

St. John’s Deputy Mayor Sheilagh O’Leary says she will not run for the leadership, but did not rule out running for the NDP in the upcoming provincial election.

Meanwhile, lawyer Mark Gruchy released a statement saying he is seriously considering running for the NDP leadership.

“Since Ms. Rogers announced her intention to step down, I have been receiving constant inquiries and statements of support respecting my running for the leadership of the party,” Gruchy wrote. “It has been very humbling to realize there are many people who have such confidence in me.

“I am currently seriously giving thought to the matter.

“I got involved with the NDP because the party has great potential as a positive force for change and effective governance in Newfoundland and Labrador. I want it to realize that potential. To do this, the party must address a longstanding issue. Whoever ultimately becomes leader needs to appreciate they cannot continue on the path of self-limitation the party has walked now for over a decade. The complex issues within which have led to breakdowns of cohesion have to be addressed through a sustained and sincere consensus building process.

“That will be the primary job of the leader. It is a monumental task which will define the success or failure of the party going into the next decade.

“There is no issue facing the NDP more pressing than this.

“It is my hope the NDP will use this opportunity to grow beyond its purely self-imposed limitations. The membership and party supporters deserve that, as does the province as a whole.

“I hope personal sincerity, a desire for the well-being of the province and an awareness of what the NDP is capable of becoming , will carry the day.

“I am watching with great interest and very seriously contemplating my role as the next chapter of the story of the NDP in Newfoundland and Labrador begins.”

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