Peter Julian has quit the NDP leadership race, with many New Democrats feeling the B.C. MP was the first victim of Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh's entry into the campaign two months ago.
Mr. Julian, a 13-year veteran of the House who was the first candidate to officially enter the race, cited poor fundraising numbers to explain his exit nearly three months before the first round of voting.
"I didn't see a path to actually winning with the resources we had, without a substantial injunction of personal funds," said Mr. Julian, who is the MP for New Westminster-Burnaby. "This is when the resources get spent, in the last 90 days, so you have to be honest with yourself."
Mr. Singh, who was the last candidate to enter the race in May, said his own fundraising numbers will showcase his ability to grow the party. The figures are not yet public, but he described them as "awesome."
"A good leadership race requires organization, and the metrics of that organization are members and fundraising. Those are two things where I'm doing very well, if I can say so myself," Mr. Singh said in an interview.
Mr. Singh has been campaigning this week in British Columbia, where he has received the endorsement of NDP MP Randall Garrison and where he will soon unveil the support of another B.C. MP.
Mr. Julian's decision to leave the race will create new opportunities for the three other NDP MPs in the race: Ontario's Charlie Angus, Manitoba's Niki Ashton and Quebec's Guy Caron.
Mr. Angus said the race will be getting "more focused" with four candidates, stating members are looking for a leader with parliamentary experience.
"When I talk to people, they want to know that we can get back in the game and win, they want a leader with experience, someone who can get us to the finish line," said Mr. Angus, who said the coming NAFTA renegotiations will be a key moment for the country.
Mr. Julian had the support of six NDP MPs who are now free to endorse any one of the remaining candidates. In particular, campaigns will be looking to attract the support of Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir, who has strong connections to the union movement, and Alexandre Boulerice, who is one of the best-known New Democrats in Quebec.
"Basically, the writing was on the wall [for Mr. Julian]. Jagmeet is doing very well in British Columbia," said long-time NDP official Kathleen Monk, who is neutral in this race.
Karl Bélanger, another unaligned former NDP official, said Mr. Singh has "managed to create more buzz than the other campaigns" so far, although he cautioned it is "too early" to pick the front-runner at this point.
With Mr. Julian out of the race, Ms. Ashton now has more room to gain support on the left wing of the NDP, while Mr. Caron has an opportunity to win the support of Quebec MPs and members who supported Mr. Julian.
Mr. Julian said he will eventually endorse one of the four other candidates, stating his positions against pipeline development and in favour of free tuition were the key elements of his platform.
"I found, within my campaign team, that people are interested in all four of the candidates so you will see folks involved in our campaign going off to all four of the other candidates," Mr. Julian said.
He said he made his decision earlier in the week in a discussion with his wife.
The next NDP leadership debate between candidates will be held on July 11 in Saskatoon. The membership cutoff date to participate in the race is on Aug. 17, with the results of the first round of voting announced on Oct. 1. The NDP has opted for a "one member, one vote" selection process.