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Cardiff 'knows' when to fold 'em

Steve Cardiff doesn't want to be leader of the Yukon New Democratic Party anymore. The Mount Lorne MLA announced his about-face Tuesday, but refused to say why he's ditching his campaign.

Steve Cardiff doesn’t want to be leader of the Yukon New Democratic Party anymore.

The Mount Lorne MLA announced his about-face Tuesday, but refused to say why he’s ditching his campaign.

“It’s not that I don’t want to (explain)—it’s that I’m not prepared to,” said Cardiff, refusing to elaborate.

Cardiff has been in the race since February, after current leader Todd Hardy announced his retirement from politics due to leukemia.

Cardiff has remained the only candidate for six months.

His campaign was running fine, he said.

He visited communities and raised money, all of which will be returned, he pledged.

But in recent weeks, there’s been talk of new contenders jumping into the race.

Cardiff brushed aside criticism that he was leaving the party hanging, saying he “knows” that others will soon put themselves forward.

“Those people will make their announcement when they’re ready,” he said.

Asked if he would have stayed in the race if no one else had begun testing the leadership waters, Cardiff was blunt.

“This doesn’t have anything to do with other people running,” he said.

His reasons for refusing to explain himself are not personal or legal, he said.

“Those reasons remain my reasons.”

Hardy, who’d taken a leave from executive decision-making, has received calls from a few potential candidates, he said.

“I have been approached and people did meet with me to discuss what it entails to be a leader and to give me the indication that they were seeking (the leadership,)” said Hardy.

The conversations have become more serious in the last few weeks, he said.

“Many of the people have been thinking about this for a long while,” said Hardy. “And it has been a long process and Steve was the first.

“But it seems in the last month, there’s been a lot more interest.”

At least two people have put themselves forward in NDP circles as candidates.

“I’ve heard a couple names,” said Hardy. “One is definitely a newer person. And another is someone who has been a strong supporter of the NDP for a long time.”

Since Hardy and Cardiff are the party’s only two MLA’s, the need to bring in new blood is essential.

Yukon Federation of Labour president Alex Furlong is contemplating a run at the NDP leadership, he said in an interview earlier this month.

The NDP member hasn’t made a decision on whether to run yet, and is leaving for vacation until the end of August, he said Tuesday.

The party has remained ineffectual as a third-party, two-person opposition despite mounting scandals within the governing Yukon Party.

Premier Dennis Fentie’s polling numbers have dropped since the spring.

Fentie has barely responded to evidence that he was in a secret privatization deal to sell the Yukon Energy Corporation and that he interfered in the arm’s-length Peel Watershed land-use planning process.

A recent poll showed some meagre momentum for the NDP, but they remain below the support they had during the last election in 2006.

The Liberals, who are the official Opposition, have also seen a modest boost in support.

The NDP leadership convention is set for September 26.

Contact James Munson at