As Nathan Cullen ponders his political future, some local New Democrats are eager to see him take a run at the leadership of the provincial party.
The MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley is weighing his options as he decides whether to stay on the federal scene or enter the race to replace outgoing B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix.
"He's very charismatic and I think that he appeals to people," said Sussanne Skidmore-Hewlett, who ran unsuccessfully for the NDP in Nechako Lakes in the spring provincial election. "He's got a really good quality of being able to bring people together, and I think that' something we need."
A rising star in the federal party, Cullen placed third in last year's leadership race to replace Jack Layton. He's currently the Opposition house leader and has taken a lead role in the party's virtual question period on Twitter this month with the House of Commons shut down.
Former Prince George-area NDP MLA Lois Boone supported Cullen in his bid to succeed Layton and is intrigued by the idea that he could be in the running to be the next provincial leader.
"I think he's a tremendous representative for this area and the whole north," Boone said. "The idea of having somebody from the north, from the rural areas, in a position of leadership was very exciting at the federal level - and of course now if he's considering it at the provincial level, it's equally exciting."
The federal run raised Cullen's profile across the province and Boone said could help him should he decide to make the jump provincially.
No candidates have officially entered the race to replace Dix and the party hasn't set a date for a leadership convention, which is expected sometime next spring.
Cullen said Thursday he's not ready to make a commitment yet but he's warming up to the idea of running. He said he needs to weigh family considerations and his work in Ottawa against what he thinks he can accomplish in the provincial arena.
"I'm a British Columbian, I pay attention to a lot of what goes on provincially but I don't claim to understand the intricacies of Victoria nor the ins and outs of what's going on within our party because sometimes it's been kind of complicated," Cullen said. "It just feels like due diligence is required."
Both Skidmore-Hewlett and Boone said Cullen's ability to understand complex issues and connect with people are characteristics the NDP should be looking for in its next leader.
If Cullen were to enter the race, he could be the outsider running against one or more current members of caucus. Boone said that comes with its own set of challenges because Cullen doesn't have a seat in the legislature, but it also has some advantages.
"From the other side they don't have any internal baggage, so they don't come with connections with any particular group within the caucus," he said.
Boone has yet to speak to Cullen about the provincial leadership, but she did chat with him when the job was last open in 2011 - at that time Cullen wasn't ready to make the plunge.
Skidmore-Hewlett has reached out to Cullen and told him she would support his leadership run.
"I've let him know that I support him running, and I'll support his decision whatever it will be, whether it's staying on in the federal side of things or to throw his hat in the ring," she said.