B.C.'s New Democratic Party has formally announced a leadership contest to elect Premier John Horgan's replacement.
The Saturday announcement comes two and a half weeks after Horgan announced he would be retiring ahead of the 2024 provincial election.
Horgan said he will resign as leader in the fall, explaining that his second bout with cancer left him with little energy for the job.
"I look forward to seeing the candidates who put their names forward for this important job representing New Democrat values and serving the great people of British Columbia," said Aaron Sumexheltza, president of the B.C. NDP, in a statement.
Sumexheltza said the party's elected governing bodies have ratified leadership election rules and the campaign period will officially kick off on Sunday, July 17.
The voting period could begin as early as Nov. 13, with results and a new leader expected by Dec. 3.
Some of the speculation over who might be the new leader was put to rest on July 6, when Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon, who had been touted as a favourite to take over, withdrew his name and endorsed Attorney General David Eby.
B.C. political strategists initially expected a two-person race between Kahlon and Eby and, while Eby has yet to officially mount a campaign, many consider him to be the front-runner.
Several MLAs have already endorsed Eby, but he could face opposition from Land Minister Josie Osborne and Finance Minister Selina Robinson.
The party says former cabinet minister Elizabeth Cull has been appointed chief electoral officer and will oversee the leadership race.
Candidates have to be an NDP member in good standing, show a genuine interest in serving as a leader, and submit their application along with an entrance fee of $15,000 by Tuesday, Oct. 4 to enter the leadership contest.
Anyone who wants to join the B.C. NDP as a member and be eligible to vote in the leadership election has until Sept. 4 to register.