New Conservative representative high on association's priority list

Jason Malloy
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WENTWORTH - One of the first orders of business for Central and Northern Nova Scotia Conservatives is to find a candidate for the next federal election, says the new association president.

"I don't think it's going to be a challenge to find a candidate," Jeff Hunt told Transcontinental Media on Thursday. "Basically we've been on an informal candidate search since Bill's announcement."

Independent MP Bill Casey, who was expelled from the Conservative caucus in 2007 for voting against the federal budget, announced in January he would not re-offer for the next election. Many of the party faithful, including Hunt, supported the popular Casey when he won last fall's election in a landslide.

The federal party has asked the riding to have a candidate search committee in place by today and a candidate in place before June. Hunt said the national party has many candidates already nominated across the country, particularly in ridings currently not held by Conservative MPs.

"It's a minority government (and) you never know what's going to happen," he said. "We are all people who stood with Bill Casey but we now understand Bill has made his position clear so we have to be ready."

One person who is considered a top candidate to replace Casey is Scott Armstrong, a lifelong Tory who is the president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.

"It's still under strong consideration and that would depend on when the nomination is called," said Armstrong. "Timing is everything in politics so I'll have to wait and see if the timing is going to work out."

Hunt said mending fences is the most important job for the association.

"Now that (Casey) has made (his decision) public we feel it's really important to bring the association back together and move it forward."

Organizations: Northern Nova Scotia Conservatives, Transcontinental Media, Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia

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