Vancouver-Kingsway Adrian Dix won the B.C. NDP leadership race Sunday, finishing with 9,772 party members supporting him after the third round of voting.
Dix emerged on top after the first round with 7,368 votes. Veteran Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth, who was believed to be the front-runner, was close behind with 6,979. Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan was third with 4,844 and marijuana activist Dana Larsen was dropped from the ballot with 531 supporters.
In the second round, Dix extended his lead with 7,748 votes, while Farnworth’s total dipped slightly as about 250 voters didn’t cast second round ballots. Horgan increased his total to 5,034 in the second round, but was dropped from the ballot for the decisive third round.
In the final round, Farnworth made it close with 9,095 votes, 48 per cent of the total who stayed in the voting to the end. Polls of the general public throughout the three-month leadership campaign consistently put Farnworth in front of the other contenders in recognition and positive views.
In his speech after the final vote in a crowded ballroom at the Vancouver convention centre, Dix quickly went after Premier Christy Clark, who is running in a May 11 byelection to return to the B.C. legislature after five years away from the B.C. Liberal Party. Dix reminded NDP supporters that more than 100 public schools closed while Clark was education minister in the Gordon Campbell government, and accused her of suggesting during her leadership campaign that she would make deep cuts to health care spending.
After the vote, Farnworth said he had no regrets about entering the contest, and along with Horgan he pledged to work with Dix to win the next B.C. election.
Each candidate gave a speech before the final rounds of live voting, trying to persuade the remaining third of B.C. NDP members who waited for Sunday to vote. Their remarks kept close to the scripts established during the party’s debate tour around the province in recent weeks.
Farnworth presented himself as the moderate candidate who can reach out to people who haven’t supported the NDP in previous elections, as well as traditional supporters and those voting for the first time. He promised to restore a northern and rural resource commission to keep resource jobs in B.C.
Dix returned to his theme of income inequality that has been a feature of his campaign. He called for a minimum tax on banks to fund interest-free loans and grants for post-secondary studies, and advocated rolling back corporate tax cuts from the Gordon Campbell era.
After the first round of voting, Horgan said he had momentum, but his later start cost him support as Dix and Farnworth signed up many new members in the Lower Mainland.