“Wild card” from the west

The NDP leadership hopefuls will finally have concluded their long campaigns to become Leader of the Official Opposition last weekend.

The NDP leadership hopefuls will finally have concluded their long campaigns to become  Leader of the Official Opposition last weekend.

After the paper went to press, the NDP race was about to conclude on Saturday, March 24 after what seemed like an endless race with a nearly endless list of competitors.

Skeena-Bulkley MP Nathan Cullen was one of the candidates vying for the position, and his ranking seems to have risen throughout the race.

Cullen began the race as a self-described “underdog,” but has been making an impression in his campaign, doing a very efficient job of raising his public profile.

While still not considered a front-runner, Cullen was referred to in a number of opinion pieces leading up to the final leadership election and viewed as a potential wrench in the plans of possible front-runners Thomas Mulcair and Brian Topp.

In a Vancouver Sun article by Peter  O’Neill, Cullen was described as “effervescent” and called a “wild card” and potential threat to Mulcair and Topp.

“If someone were offering attractive odds you might want to wager a modest amount on B.C.’s Nathan Cullen as the most likely candidate to pull off a remarkable upset,” wrote O’Neill.

He wasn’t the only one taking a different view on Cullen either.

In an opinion piece in the Toronto Star, which endorsed Mulcair as the NDP’s best bet for the NDP maintaining their seats and potentially increasing them against the Conservatives, Cullen was suggested to potentially be “the NDP’s biggest find, reaching out to progressive voters regardless of party affiliation and channelling the politics of hope that Layton famously embodied.”

While Cullen is not highly likely to emerge as the new Leader of the Official Opposition as this paper hits the stands, the race has shown off his strengths and helped to raise his profile significantly in the media and across the country.

This increase in visibility of the local area MP will not only benefit his political aspirations, but it will also help to benefit the region, as his power in Ottawa grows.

Still young by political standards at 39, Cullen has plenty of time to build on this.

Cullen is a man to watch, and he has the likeable and unrehearsed presence of someone who doesn’t need video footage of staged performances to make people identify with him as human.