Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has announced his retirement and political analysts say there are no obvious candidates who might replace him.
“Saskatchewan needs renewal, a fresh perspective in leadership,” Wall said Thursday. He also said the province would benefit from a new voice and energy.
The new leader of the Saskatchewan Party will be chosen by its members, in a one-member, one-vote election.
“It’s going to be a very much a contested leadership race,” University of Saskatchewan political studies professor Greg Poelzer said. “Many will throw their hats in the race.”
CBC News spoke to Poelzer and Regina Leader-Post columnist Murray Mandryk about potential candidates. Here’s their take on possible contenders:
“He’s … from an urban centre, somebody who is a former city councillor. I think he’s seen as more centrist within the party,” Poelzer said.
“And, so, he’s probably seen as more able to bridge both the federal Liberals and the federal Conservatives.”
He added that people see him as an able minister.
Mandryk thinks it’s likely Wyant will run.
“I think there’s a significant camp in Saskatoon that would really like to see him run,” Mandryk said.
“Because of the nature of the race so far, and that Wall as early as last January put a kibosh on any such talk, it’s really hard to get a sense of at this particular moment on this particular day as to how serious any of these camps are.”
“He’s been seen to be a loyal minister to Premier Wall. A lot of people think he’s, or perceive him to be, confident,” Poelzer said.
“There’s not many controversies on his watch, and he’s been a minister in different portfolios.”
Poelzer said people see him as a safe, confident leader.
“I would put him in the category of ‘likely to most definitely,'” Mandryk said, noting that Reiter and Wall have similar attributes. “A broad base likability to him that doesn’t seem as hard edge as others in the Conservative ranks would be portrayed as.”
Like Wyant and Reiter, Poelzer said Doherty has built a reputation within the party.
“It’s a confidence factor. He’s personable and seen as a confident minister.”
Mandryk is unsure and “on the fence” about the chance of Doherty running.”
“He is of Wall’s era and is coming from pretty much the same background. I don’t know if he has the same broad base support in the party, and he’s a smart enough politician to kind of realize that.”
Poelzer said while Tina Beaudry-Mellor’s name has come up as a potential candidate, “I think the question’s going to be: ‘Is she too new?'”
“I think there’s definitely a solid possibility, which is somewhat short of likely,” Mandryk said, noting she lacks experience as a cabinet minister and an MLA.
That said, he believes the party needs “a woman candidate desperately. They’ve never had one for heaven’s sake.”
“[Ken Cheveldayoff’s] somebody who was touted as a potential premier candidate, certainly one or two terms ago,” Poelzer said.
“He’s kind of been in the shadows a little bit, not as high of a profile, but he’s somebody who within his own base has a pretty loyal following, so that one to me is a bit of a wild card.”
Mandryk said Cheveldayoff has been perceived as having political ambitions for a long time, and that someone in his position would have to seriously consider a run like this.
“Having been out of cabinet, and having basically the same kind of political background as Wall, coming from kind of the same place, he might be reluctant or people might not see him as viable,” Mandryk said.
“I don’t know if [Cheveldayoff] would necessarily be getting as many endorsements from others.”
Dustin Duncan is the MLA for the Weyburn-Big Muddy region and energy and resources minister, as well as the cabinet minister responsible for SaskEnergy and SaskTel.
Poelzer is uncertain if Duncan will throw his hat into the ring, “but he’s somebody that’s well known, obviously for a long time within the party, and there’s a lot in the party who quite like Dustin Duncan.”
Mandryk thinks Duncan is out.
“I think it all has to do with him having a young family,” he said. “I’m saddened to say that, because I honestly think he’s among their best candidates.”
“Who’s going to win, I think is the million-dollar question,” Poelzer said. “I think that’s still a really big unknown.”
“A lot depends on the nature of this race: how quick it is, how much support they think they can get in a short amount of time,” Mandryk said.
On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Party released a statement saying it would begin organizing a leadership convention.