Simons drops out of NDP leadership race

With just over a week to go before B.C. NDP members pick a new leader, Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons has dropped out.

Simons announced his decision Thursday and said he is supporting Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan. Simons has trailed front-runners Mike Farnworth, Adrian Dix and Horgan in recent polls, and has even polled behind marijuana activist Dana Larsen, the only non-MLA in the contest.

“I spoke to Mike and Dana last night, and to Adrian this morning,” Simons said Thursday. “All the candidates are my friends, and that’s not going to change. But I think John Horgan will surprise and impress a lot of people, as he has impressed me.”

Like Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali, Simons dropped out after expressing concerns about the NDP’s $15,000 entry fee for the leadership contest, and the requirement that all leadership funds raised by split 50-50 with the provincial party. Simons took part in the province-wide series of debates sponsored by the party, which finished up Wednesday evening in Terrace.

The NDP holds a province-wide vote of members that concludes April 17 with a convention-style event at the Vancouver convention centre. After advance polls for the phone and Internet vote, the party plans a series of voting rounds at the leadership assembly to determine the winner by 6:30 p.m.

Simons was one of the 13 MLAs who refused to support Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James as party leader last year, precipitating her resignation and the contest to replace her.

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