No regrets, says de Jong
Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong lost on the first ballot in the Liberal leadership race on Saturday night at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
He watched Christy Clark win a close third-ballot victory over Kevin Falcon.
"Any time you come up short of your overall objective there's an element of disappointment," said de Jong, but added he was happy with the work he and his supporters had done on his campaign.
De Jong, who gave up the attorney general position to run for the Liberal leadership, said he is "proud and enthusiastic" about premier elect Christy Clark, whom he called a talented leader. After a sometimes divisive leadership race, all four of the candidates were stressing party unity, and de Jong was no exception.
"I'm entirely confident that the party will rally around Christy Clark," he said. He noted he and Clark worked together as far back as the mid 1990s.
Clark was a former cabinet minister who left government in 2004, saying she was going to focus more on raising her son. She was an open-line radio host and newspaper columnist.
De Jong remained a high-profile cabinet minister in Gordon Campbell's government. Campbell's popularity plummeted, his approval rating sinking to just nine per cent, in the wake of the HST's announcement, and de Jong allowed that being a key player in that cabinet may have cost him votes on Saturday.
"There may have been an element of that," he said, but he stayed upbeat Saturday night.
"I feel tremendously lucky to have been able to participate in the race," he said.
He called his three rivals for the premiership "talented individuals," and added "to be amongst that group - I certainly have no regrets."
Asked what the future holds for Mike de Jong, he wasn't thinking very far ahead.
"I'm going to have a pint of beer," he said.