NDP Leadership Race: Farnworth drops out, endorses John Horgan
VICTORIA – The B.C. NDP caucus lined up behind leadership contender John Horgan Tuesday, including his only rival for the job, Mike Farnworth.
"Yes, today marks the end of my campaign for B.C. NDP leader," Farnworth said at a news conference in Victoria Tuesday. "But more importantly, it begins our campaign to elect a B.C. NDP government in 2017, with John Horgan as premier."
Horgan thanked Farnworth for "putting aside his leadership campaign to create a unity candidate, a unity committee, to go forward and beat the Liberals in 2017."
Horgan said he will continue to campaign for the leadership until May 1, the deadline for nominations to lead the party. If that deadline passes with no new candidates, Horgan expects to be acclaimed.
Farnworth's campaign has suffered two setbacks in recent days, the latest being Horgan's increased lead in endorsements. Horgan's latest supporters are party members around Farnworth's Port Coquitlam home turf, including Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA Selina Robinson, NDP MP Fin Donnelly and former area MLAs Dawn Black and Joe Trasolini.
Farnworth's only public endorsers from the B.C. NDP caucus were Saanich South MLA Lana Popham and Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson, while Horgan had 15 MLAs publicly supporting him.
Farnworth also bore the brunt of former premier Mike Harcourt's decision last week to quit the NDP. Harcourt endorsed Farnworth in the 2011 NDP leadership where Farnworth finished second to Adrian Dix.
Another key endorsement for Horgan came from the B.C. executive of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 85,000 municipal workers in the province.The board led by CUPE B.C. president Mark Hancock, formerly president of the Port Coquitlam local, was among those calling for Horgan to run.
After Dix announced he would step down this fall, Horgan initially said he would not seek the leadership, making way for younger contenders. But those contenders, including new MLAs elected in 2013, ruled themselves out one after another.
The party has a deadline of May 1 for candidates to be nominated for the leadership, which includes payment of $25,000 to go towards staging of leadership debates around the province. Candidates have until June 26 to sign up new party members, with a province-wide vote scheduled to be completed Sept. 28.
Both the B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals finished 2013 in debt after the election last May. The B.C. Liberals raised $14 million and ended the year $2.2 million in debt, while the B.C. NDP raised $11.6 million and had a $3 million debt.