Kathleen Wynne leads in backers for Ontario Liberal leadership race weekend delegate selection

Kathleen Wynne is cheered by supporters after announcing her intention to run for the leadership of the Ontario …Most political watchers in Ontario have their calendars marked for the weekend of January 25th.

That, of course, is when Liberal party members descend upon Toronto to replace Dalton McGuinty as Ontario Liberal leader and, by default, Ontario premier.

This weekend, however, is pretty important too.

On January 12th and 13th, Liberal riding associations across the province will each elect 16 delegates. These delegates, along with 800 'ex-officios' (ie: MPPs, party officers and Liberal MPs from Ontario), will be the only ones allowed to vote at the leadership convention at the end of the month.

According to data obtained by the Toronto Star, Kathleen Wynne has more backers vying for delegate spots than any other candidate: The former cabinet minister has 1,533 supporters running to be delegates while former MPPs Sandra Pupatello and Gerard Kennedy have 1,281 and 846 respectively.

[ Related: Wynne propelled by power to connect with people ]

The Star does caution, that the numbers are "provisional" and that Pupatello likely has a lot of support with the ex-officios.

That seems to be a valid caveat — at least when we look at caucus support.

A Pupatello spokesperson told Yahoo! Canada News that she has the public backing of 23 sitting Liberal MPPs.  According to Kathleen Wynne's website, she has 9 MPPs supporting her while Gerard Kennedy has only 4 MPPs on his side.

Pupatello supporter — and Liberal insider — Warren Kinsella says that his candidate is in a good position.

"Sandra said at the start of the campaign that this exactly where she expected to be in the lead up to the convention," he told Yahoo! Canada News in an email exchange.

"If the numbers are right, she is in a strong second place. In a race with a lot of top-notch candidates, that's a great place to be. The declared support she has - along with the ex officio support I expect she will get at the convention - make me feel very good about her chances."

[ Related: Will 2013 continue the boom for women in politics? ]

A lot can happen between now and the weekend of January 25.

But as of now — whether it's Wynne or Pupatello — it looks as if Ontario might be getting their first ever woman premier.