Monte McNaughton drops out of Ontario PC leadership race

WATCH: Two candidates remain as Monte McNaughton drops out of the PC leadership race. Alan Carter has the details.

TORONTO – MPP Monte McNaughton has officially bowed out of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race.

In a statement released on his website Thursday morning, McNaughton said he is “taking steps to wind-down” his campaign and thanked his family for their support.

“Despite these successes our campaign has now reached an important crossroads, and I want to let you know that this morning I will begin taking the steps to wind-down my campaign for leader,” McNaughton wrote.

The Lambton—Kent—Middlesex MPP said his campaign directly signed up more than 12,000 conservatives to its ranks.

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McNaughton also stated he will be endorsing candidate Patrick Brown.

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“Patrick has demonstrated that he has the energy and ability to bring thousands of new members from diverse backgrounds and different points of view into our Party, which is exactly what I’ve been saying we need,” he said.

Brown, a federal MP representing the riding of Barrie, released a statement of his own on Thursday welcoming the support.

“I would like to thank Monte for running a great campaign, and for his support to rebuild our Party to one that is reflective of all Ontarians,” said Brown.

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“This leadership contest has become what we always knew it was: a choice between the same old, same old, and a fresh start to rebuild our Party.”

The PC leadership race is now down to two candidates including Brown and perceived front-runner MPP Christine Elliott.

PC members are eligible to vote for the new leader on May 3 and 7, with the winner to be revealed on May 9.