Six candidates are in the race to lead the Ontario Liberals

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Six candidates are in the race to lead the Ontario Liberals


The field is now set in the race to be Ontario Liberal leader.

Six candidates have committed to the $100,000 entry fee for the March 7 contest.

With the surprise entry of Ottawa personal injury lawyer Brenda Hollingsworth, three women and three men are now vying to lead the moribund party back from the political wilderness.

If fundraising is a barometer, former cabinet minister Steven Del Duca is the front-runner.

Del Duca, who lost in Vaughan-Woodbridge to Progressive Conservative Michael Tibollo in Premier Doug Ford’s June 2018 landslide, has raised more than $227,000.

MPP Michael Coteau (Don Valley East), a former minister, has brought in about $165,000.

MPP Mitzie Hunter (Scarborough Guildwood), also a former minister, has collected almost $140,000.

Kate Graham, who finished third in London North Centre in last year’s election, has garnered about $102,000 in donations.

Alvin Tedjo, the 2018 runner-up in Oakville-Burlington North, has $85,000 in contributions.

Hollingsworth, a newcomer to Ontario Liberal politics, would only say that she has submitted the requisite $85,000 instalment of the $100,000 fee to enter.

She said she is still being vetted by the party and was unsure that would be completed in time for Thursday’s leadership showcase at the Chestnut Convention Centre in downtown Toronto.

While there will be winter byelections held in Ottawa-Vanier and Orleans to replace two retired Liberal MPPs, Hollingsworth said she plans to run in Nepean or Carleton, currently held by Tories, if elected leader.

The candidates have until next Monday to sell $20 party memberships.

Only Liberal members can elect the delegates from all 124 Ontario ridings who will choose the leader at a Mississauga convention on March 7.

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The Grits had governed Ontario for almost 15 years under premier Kathleen Wynne and Dalton McGuinty before being trounced by Ford’s Conservatives.

Now, the party holds just five seats in the 124-member legislature, though they are expected to win back the two Ottawa-area ridings.

Robert Benzie

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie
Rob Ferguson

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