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B.C. NDP MLA Rob Fleming in Victoria in a file image from 2005. He says the prospect of Adrian Dix staying on as leader until September, 2014, will create difficulty for candidates hoping to succeed him.

Don Denton/The Globe and Mail

A potential contender for the leadership of the B.C. NDP is urging Adrian Dix to step aside early, saying Mr. Dix's weakened position at the helm will make it difficult for the party to raise money or announce a political strategy.

Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake and the party's education critic, said Monday that after the party's provincial council decided over the weekend to set a September, 2014, date for a leadership vote, the party now faces the prospect of Mr. Dix being its leader for almost another year.

Mr. Dix, who led the party to defeat in the spring provincial election, had been calling for a leadership vote early in 2014. He plans to leave only once a successor is chosen. On Sunday, the party's provincial council set the September date.

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"Adrian is going to have to look at that," said Mr. Fleming who, like others, has not officially announced he will run but has made it known he's considering it.

"I think [Mr. Dix] thought the leadership race would be completed in a more timely way. I think it's difficult for the party with him at the helm."

Mr. Fleming is not the first to raise concerns about Mr. Dix's extended stay as leader. Earlier this year, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, a long-time New Democrat married to an opposition MLA, said Mr. Dix should leave immediately so an interim leader has a chance to let rookie MLAs show future leadership potential.

New Democrats attended a biennial policy convention this past weekend – the first major party meeting since the NDP blew double-digit polling leads over the Liberals, allowing Premier Christy Clark to lead her party to a fourth straight majority mandate. Before the leadership vote date was set, Mr. Dix said he would stick to his plans and remain leader until a successor was chosen.

A spokesperson for the Opposition Leader said Monday that Mr. Dix was sticking to his timetable despite the extended wait for the naming of a successor.

B.C. MP Fin Donnelly, who is considering a leadership bid, said he would leave it to caucus, the party and Mr. Dix himself to decide on the timetable for his exit. "He's been extremely effective as an MLA and an Opposition Leader," Mr. Donnelly said.

Mr. Fleming said the upside of the 10-month campaign is that it allows time to sign up members and will encourage a wide-open race; the downside is the possible cost and challenge of maintaining a campaign for almost a year. "It is a very long haul," he said.

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