Wide Open Race
1. It would scare off a lot of prospective candidates. Now, many dark horses might be more inclined to run.
2. McKenna's association with the Martin people would have inevitably led to a "Martin candidate" and a "Chretien candidate". With McKenna (and Manley) gone, the prospect of the party uniting behind the winning candidate has been increased dramatically.
3. Reading several books and articles on McKenna leaves me with the impression that he's one of those "all things to all people" politicians, not what the party needs now as we search for a clear path and vision.
4. McKenna's baggage with the Carlyle Group, big business, and his abortion position would have been perfect fodder for an election campaign. McKenna as LPC leader was Jack Layton's ideal scenario.
I'm not sure of McKenna's reasons to pass it up and, truth be told, I'm a little suspicious that he might still enter the race at a later date. But we should remember that he declined offers to run federally in 1997, 2000, and 2004. He's also in his late 50s and the Liberal Party isn't in spectacular shape right now, desperately needing to rebuild.
Hopefully this will encourage a lot of other candidates to run, which should set us up for a wide open, fascinating race. Belinda and Volpe are the only candidates left I have apprehensions about, so I'm really liking the way this race is shaping up.