Dwight Duncan will not seek the leadership of the Ontario Liberals.
The province's finance minister made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday, also stating that he would not seek re-election as an MPP.
"I have decided it's time for me to move forward," Duncan told reporters, according to the Toronto Star.
"I've always believed governments have a natural life span of about eight years. You're compelled, in my view, to move on."
Duncan, who was seen by many as the front-runner to replace outgoing premier Dalton McGuinty, used to opportunity to endorse another potential candidate for leader. He said he would support former MPP, cabinet minister and childhood friend Sandra Pupatello — should she choose to run.
Pupatello was part of the provincial 'Liberal rat pack', as opposition to the Tory government from 1995 to 2003, and is known for her stylish fashion and feisty personality.
In government, she served as social services minister and also headed the education and economic trade and development portfolios. She quit politics in 2011 and took a job with PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP.
In an interview with QMI Agency on Wednesday, she said she'll make a decision about the leadership race soon.
"I'm thinking about it, for sure. It's impossible not to with the kinds of calls and e-mails I'm getting," she said.
"You can't take this kind of thing lightly. The people who have called have so much credibility with me that I absolutely promise I'm going to have a serious think about it."
Liberal insider Warren Kinsella believes she'd make a good premier.
"She is what Ontario needs," he told Yahoo! Canada News via email.
"She's passionate, she's smart, she's accomplished and she hasn't been near any of the controversies that have arisen since she left politics. We need her. I just hope she heeds the call!"
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The common refrain among analysts and pundits is that the new Liberal leader needs to be an outsider; someone who wasn't involved in the McGuinty government's recent scandals. Pupatello fits that bill.
So does former MPP and MP Gerard Kennedy who told the Globe and Mail, last week, that he's considering a run at the leadership as well.
At this point, Pupatello and Kennedy would be the front-runners.
Other rumoured candidates include Municipal Affairs Minister Kathleen Wynne, Education Minister Laurel Broten, and Health Minister Deb Matthews.
Leadership candidates have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 23 to submit their leadership forms to party headquarters.
According to the party's website, candidates will need at least 250 signatures from party members and pay an entrance fee of $50,000; campaign spending will be capped at $500,000.
The leadership convention will be held on Sunday, January 25, 2013.
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(Photo courtesy CBC)