Federal Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt announced she will not seek the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party on Twitter Saturday.
“I commend the #PCPO for opening up this race, allowing everyone a voice in selecting our next leader,” Raitt said. “While it will not be me, I will continue to work with our candidates across the province to ensure a new, @OntarioPCParty government.”
The Progressive Conservatives are in need of new leadership just months ahead of a provincial election in June after allegations of sexual misconduct forced former leader Patrick Brown to resign.
The Ontario PC caucus elected Nipissing MPP and party finance critic Vic Fedeli, 61, to fill Brown’s shoes as interim leader in a hastily-assembled vote Friday.
The caucus of elected legislators wanted Fedeli to lead the party through the election to avoid a divisive, and potentially costly, race.
Rod Phillips, the former Postmedia executive and star candidate for the party running in Ajax, Ont., co-signed a letter Thursday with 27 other Tory candidates asking the party executive to hold a leadership election.
WATCH: Caucus should consider members when deciding on new Ontario PC leader: Raitt
The party’s executive voted late Friday afternoon to hold a race to select a replacement by the end of February.
Fedeli confidently threw his hat into the ring after the race was announced.
“I fully expect to be the leader that takes us into the election,” he said.
“I was made party leader by the caucus in a unanimous decision today and now the executive have asked that we go into a leadership race. I fully support their decision. They have the final say the way our constitution works.”
While Fedeli has the support of caucus, it will be the 200,000 members who will have their say when all is said and done.
WATCH: Ontario Tories replace Patrick Brown. Who is Vic Fedeli?
Aside from Fedeli, the list of potential candidates includes Christine Elliott. The former Whitby-Oshawa MPP finished second to Brown in 2015.
Caroline Mulroney (daughter of former prime minister Brian Mulroney) is running for office for the first time and has also been linked with the opening, as has former Toronto city councillor Doug Ford.
Former federal MP John Baird has also been mentioned in connection with the leadership race as well as MPP Lisa Macleod.
*With files from Global News Amanda Connolly and the Canadian Press
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