After weeks of speculation, Attorney General David Eby made it official Tuesday: He’s running to replace John Horgan as B.C.’s next premier.
Eby announced the launch of his campaign in Vancouver, with endorsements from 48 members of the BC NDP’s 57-person caucus.
The overwhelming support is part of a plan for unity in the NDP government as it transitions from Horgan, who is retiring, to a new leader, said Eby.
“When I talked to British Columbians, when I talk to my colleagues, they have the same concern about where we are right now, which is they don’t want government distracted by this leadership race,” Eby told CHEK News.
“All of us are committed to continuing the work and delivering for British Columbians in this challenging time.”
Eby, 44, has a wife and two children under 10 years old. He said that someone needed to “step up” into the race, but that he’s aware of the toll it could take on his family to be pulled into the toxic atmosphere of social media and politics in the province’s top job.
“It will be a sacrifice for and a challenge for my family,” he said. “I’ve talked to them about it. And they know. And we’re ready to go. And for British Columbians, if they are interested, and for New Democrats, I would say I’m willing to do this job and I think I can help bring people together for the kind of government that they want.”
Eby resigned as attorney general on Tuesday in order to launch his leadership bid.
So far, he’s the only declared candidate, with several other cabinet ministers and MLAs deciding not to run and instead support Eby. His campaign co-chairs are Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen and Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon. Kahlon was considered Eby’s chief rival in the race, but dropped out to endorse him earlier this month.
Eby is considered a near-unstoppable force in the race with his younger progressive base in the party, combined with Kahlon’s traditional New Democrat base of supporters and organizational might on the Lower Mainland. Candidate cutoff is Oct. 4 (which includes $40,000 in fees), while voting ends and results are announced Dec. 3.
The overwhelming caucus support is part of what Eby called a “generational shift” in leadership that Horgan has been seeking since he became leader in 2014.
He said he intends to continue working on major issues he championed as a cabinet minister, including housing affordability and homelessness, while also tackling files like health care and climate change.
Eby said he has no intention of calling an early election next spring after presenting his first budget, because voters don’t want it.
“My understanding from British Columbians is that they have absolutely no interest in an election right now,” he said. “I think if we get distracted by things like politics and elections, and this leadership campaign and so on, then voters will ultimately punish us no matter when the election is called.”