Former finance minister Mike de Jong presents one of his four balanced budgets in the B.C. legislature, February 2016. (Black Press files)

B.C. Liberal leadership race warms up

Polls pop up in support of Mike de Jong, Dianne Watts

A day after a poll was distributed showing former B.C. finance minister Mike de Jong is the best bet to defeat NDP Premier John Horgan in the next election, de Jong issued a brief statement Friday saying he’s considering another run at the B.C. Liberal leadership.

Earlier this week there was a similar poll released, picking former Surrey mayor and Conservative MP Dianne Watts as the party’s best bet against the NDP.

Other contenders are expected to be former B.C. Liberal education minister and Dawson Creek mayor Mike Bernier, and former advanced education minister and party president Andrew Wilkinson, and Michael Lee, a rookie MLA elected in Vancouver in May.

The Insights West poll that favoured Watts compared her popularity with that of Vancouver MLA and former mayor Sam Sullivan and Jas Johal, the rookie MLA for Richmond-Queensboro. Johal and Kevin Falcon, the former cabinet minister who finished second to Christy Clark in the 2011 B.C. Liberal leadership contest, have indicated they are not seeking the leadership.

The poll picking de Jong was conducted by Mainstreet Research, sponsored by an organization called Free Enterprise B.C.