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Farnworth bows out, makes Horgan likely next NDP leader

Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan is poised to become the next leader of the British Columbia New Democratic Party after Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth today withdrew from the race.

"Today marks the end of my campaign for BC NDP leader, but more importantly it begins our campaign to elect a BC NDP government in 2017 with John Horgan," Farnworth told a packed ballroom at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria.

"It became clear to me I didn't think I was going to achieve the result that I wanted," Farnworth said reflecting on his campaign. "The best interest of the party is we get behind a leader who can win the next election ... You know what, I think he's the best candidate and I'm happy to unite behind John Horgan."

Horgan welcomed Farnworth's support. "He's putting aside his leadership campaign to create unity within the BC NDP, to create a unity candidate, a unity committee, to go forward and beat the Liberals in 2017," he said.

Farnworth is making a personal sacrifice for the greater good, Horgan said. "I'm a Star Trek geek and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," he said. "It's time for a government that's balanced and puts people before the vested interests of a select few. That's my commitment."

The nomination period will remain open until May 1. So far Horgan is the only person to formally enter the race, which requires a $25,000 entry fee and the signatures of 250 party members from around the province.

Horgan said if no other candidates come forward by the deadline he anticipates the party executive will affirm him as leader. "I don't see anyone on the horizon, but that's not to say there isn't anyone," he said.

Current leader Adrian Dix said he will do everything he can to ensure a smooth transition, whether Horgan is affirmed as leader in May or if anyone else comes forward at the end of a leadership race in September.

Dix noted that the NDP has won two elections after leaders were acclaimed, noting that both Dave Barrett and Mike Harcourt ran for the job unopposed.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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