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Stilwell supports Abbott, Falcon Abbott's second choice

Former advanced education minister Moira Stilwell dropped out of the race to lead the BC Liberal Party and put her support behind George Abbott this morning.

At the same time Abbott said considering the other contenders for the party leadership he would prefer to serve in a government led by Kevin Falcon than one led by Christy Clark.

"While the decision to drop out of the race has been difficult, the decision to back George has been easy," Stilwell said. "I believe he has the best chance of holding the party united and defeating the NDP in 2013 and I want you to note the order that I said those. One without the other won't happen."

In a press conference where Stilwell joked about her low name recognition ("I want to say to the cameras, where were you when I needed you?"), she said Abbott shares her vision for the future of the province. "I want to see change in the health care system," she said. "I care about education reform for our kids and grandkids and I want to help ensure BC is prepared to compete in the global knowledge economy."

"Moira brings a lot to this team," said Abbott, citing her experience, intelligence, charm and hard work. "The next 10 days are going to be exciting. This is a highly competitive contest."

Responding to questions from reporters Abbott said Falcon would be his second choice. "Kevin has the potential to be a great leader in this province," said Abbott. "I told Kevin at the outset of the campaign that I'd be proud to serve in an administration that he led and I know he told me the same thing back."

Abbott said Clark lacks caucus support. "I think on the balance of things my support would go to Kevin . . . that's not to say anything bad about Christy."

Liberal members vote for a leader to replace Premier Gordon Campbell on Feb. 26. Former Attorney General Mike de Jong and Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne also remain in the race.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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