Abbott, Falcon duel for endorsements

VICTORIA – Natural Resource and Energy Minister Steve Thomson has become the 14th B.C. Liberal MLA to endorse George Abbott for the party leadership.

Natural Resources Minister Steve Thomson (right) has joined Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake in supporting Shuswap MLA George Abbott to take over as premier in February.

VICTORIA – Natural Resource and Energy Minister Steve Thomson has become the 14th B.C. Liberal MLA to endorse George Abbott for the party leadership.

Abbott, the Shuswap MLA and former health and aboriginal relations minister, recaptured the lead Thursday over rival Kevin Falcon, who was endorsed Wednesday by Public Safety Minister Rich Coleman.

Falcon has support from 13 current MLAs, including Coleman. Others are Iain Black (Port Moody-Coquitlam), Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey-Panorama), Ron Cantelon (Parksville-Qualicum), Dave S. Hayer (Surrey-Tynehead), Douglas Horne (Coquitlam-Burke Mountain), Rob Howard (Richmond Centre), John Les (Chilliwack), Joan McIntyre (West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky), Mary Polak (Langley), Marc Dalton (Maple Ridge-Mission), Pat Pimm (Peace River North) and John Yap (Richmond-Steveston).

Abbott’s supporters are Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission, Eric Foster (Vernon Monashee), Murray Coell (Saanich North and the Islands), Randy Hawes (Abbotsford-Mission) Kash Heed (Vancouver-Fraserview), Gordon Hogg (Surrey-White Rock), Richard Lee (Burnaby North), Norm Letnick (Kelowna-Lake Country), Don McRae (Comox Valley), John Rustad (Nechako Lakes), John Slater (Boundary-Similkameen), Terry Lake (Kamloops-South Thompson), Jane Thornthwaite (North Vancouver-Seymour) and John Van Dongen (Abbotsford South).

Former deputy premier Christy Clark was supported at her announcement by Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy.

Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, a veteran cabinet minister and B.C. Liberal house leader, has no endorsements among current MLAs.

Rod Love, de Jong’s campaign manager, downplayed the value of political endorsements in a leadership contest decided by party members with a preferential ballot on Feb. 26.

Love told CKNW radio that other candidates are running an election-style campaign with daily policy announcements and endorsements.

There are only two things that count in this contest, contacting current B.C. Liberal members and signing up new ones, Love said.