NDP Leadership – Dix gets nod as new party leader

NDP leader Adrian Dix beat out fellow leadership candidate Mike Farnworth by a nose in the leadership race Sunday.

After hopefuls Dana Larsen and John Horgan dropped out, the vote came down to a third ballot and the two favourites.

Dix finished with 9,772 votes to Farnworth’s 9,095 and signaled the NDP’s return to the left.

“I was supporting Mike (Farnworth) but a 700 vote difference that’s very close,” said Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy said from the convention in Vancouver.

“But the reality is we have a new leader, we’re moving forward, and we’re going to start working to win the next election.”

Despite the split in the vote and her backing of Farnworth, Conroy does not think the result indicates a party divided.

“You had to be here to feel the energy in the room, the excitement – people were genuinely there at the end; it was one party and our goal is to win the next election.”

Warfield resident and longtime New Democrat Jim Saare was happy to see the NDP slide a little to the left.

“I’m pleased to see Dix there,” said the former union president. “I’m quite a left leaning guy anyway so I think he’ll do a good job.”

Dix and Farnworth each presented party members with decidedly different visions for the party, as the NDP searches for a way to defeat the governing Liberals and their new leader, Christy Clark, in a provincial election that could come later this year.

Dix appealed to the party’s left-wing base of community activists and labour unions, while Farnworth was seen as a moderate who would move the party closer to the centre to siphon votes from the governing Liberal party.

Before the vote, Dix told members gathered in Vancouver that the party can’t simply mirror the Liberal party, but instead must offer a unique vision of the province that can attract some of the 1.4 million voters who stayed home during the 2009 election.

Earlier, pot activist Larsen was taken out of the race after losing on the first ballot, while Horgan was eliminated on the second ballot.