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David Eby, then a candidate in the Vancouver-Point Grey provincial by-election, works the phones at his campaign office in Vancouver on election day, May 11, 2011. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
David Eby, then a candidate in the Vancouver-Point Grey provincial by-election, works the phones at his campaign office in Vancouver on election day, May 11, 2011. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Four MLAs considering B.C. NDP leadership bids, David Eby says after bowing out Add to ...

At least four MLAs are considering bids to lead the B.C. NDP, says a member of the legislature who ruled out a bid Friday because he has learned his fiancé is pregnant.

The prospects could fill a race that has been devoid of contenders since Adrian Dix announced, six months ago, that he would leave once a successor is chosen. NDP members are to choose a leader on Sept. 28.

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David Eby, the rookie MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey, says he had a leadership team ready to go, and was raising money, but scrapped the plans when he learned he would become a father for the first time this September.

But Mr. Eby said he knows of four prospects working to prepare leadership campaigns. He declined to name them, but said would-be candidates are effectively “running behind closed doors” and measuring support because of the race will last for months.

“There’s actually quite an active campaign behind closed doors,” said Mr. Eby, a former executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, who beat Premier Christy Clark in his riding in the May, 2013 election.

The premier later won a seat in a Kelowna-area riding as a result of a by-election.

What has been visible is a succession of MPS and MLAs saying they were considering leadership bids then ruling them out for reasons that include a renewed interest in federal politics and an interest in seeing a new generation of leadership take command of the party.

“Now is not the right time for me to put forward my name as a leadership candidate,” Mr. Eby said in a blog post announcing the decision.

For some time, Mr. Eby had been saying he was seriously thinking of running for the job, but he said the arrival of his first child this September “has led me to bow out of the race.”

Former cabinet minister Mike Farnworth is considering a run as is Rob Fleming, a Victoria-area MLA. House Leader John Horgan, also the party’s energy critic, ruled himself out, but is reconsidering that decision after calls from party members, including ex-interim premier Dan Miller.

Craig Keating, the party president, said in an interview that the party has just settled, last month, on rules for a vote that is now about eight months away.

“There’s candidates out there,” he said, suggesting the mystery contenders are plotting their bids for the marathon required to win the job of leading the official opposition.

 Mr. Dix announced his departure after the NDP was defeated in the May, 2013 election that saw the Liberals under Ms. Clark win a fourth, consecutive majority mandate despite polls heading into the race that suggested the NDP had a massive lead.

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