Kevin O’Leary left the Conservative Party of Canada leadership race Wednesday afternoon after just three months of being in it.
The “Shark Tank” star and cross-border entrepreneur entered the contest late but was immediately listed as the front-runner. Since then, he has battled accusations that he can’t speak French, isn’t sufficiently conservative and spends too much time in the United States to lead a Canadian federal party.
At a news conference in Toronto, where all the leadership candidates are preparing for their the final debate before the May 27 decision day, O’Leary told reporters that he “just couldn’t move the needle” of support far enough to win on the first ballot and he said he didn’t think he had enough second ballot support to win.
“The Conservative Party needs someone who has the best chance of beating [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau. Someone who will command the support of Canadians from every region of the country and who can build a consensus among all members of the party,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary says Conservative Member of Parliament and former Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier is the candidate who can beat Trudeau, and O’Leary threw his support behind him Wednesday.
There’s no guarantee that O’Leary’s support will go to Bernier and none of his supporters are obligated to do so.
O’Leary said Wednesday’s announcement “was not an easy decision for me to make but after much thought and deliberation it is the right one for the Conservative party and the country.”
O’Leary claims to have sold 35,335 party memberships to “a whole new generation of young Canadians, many of whom are new to the Conservative Party.”
Just a month ago, O’Leary was accusing some candidates of “rigging” the selling of memberships. He told The Daily Caller that the membership numbers “were a moving target that will have to be watched closely until the vote is over.”