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COMMENTARY: Kevin O’Leary shocks Conservative leadership race

Conservative Party leadership candidate Maxime Bernier (left) shakes hands with Kevin O'Leary at a news conference in Toronto, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, after it was announced that O'Leary had quit the leadership race and thrown his support behind Bernier.
Conservative Party leadership candidate Maxime Bernier (left) shakes hands with Kevin O'Leary at a news conference in Toronto, Wednesday, April 26, 2017, after it was announced that O'Leary had quit the leadership race and thrown his support behind Bernier. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Well, that was a surprise!

Front runner Kevin O’Leary announced yesterday that he is dropping out of the Conservative leadership race, much to the surprise of just about everyone.

READ MORE: Conservative leadership race enters home stretch, minus O’Leary

O’Leary rocked the race when he entered and he certainly rocked it when he left.

O’Leary’s stated reason for leaving is that he didn’t feel that he could win Quebec in the next federal election, a failure that he felt would hand Justin Trudeau a second term as prime minister.

WATCH: Kevin O’Leary withdrawal from Conservative leadership draws applause

Click to play video: 'Kevin O’Leary withdrawal from Conservative leadership draws applause' Kevin O’Leary withdrawal from Conservative leadership draws applause
Kevin O’Leary withdrawal from Conservative leadership draws applause – Apr 26, 2017

That’s a plausible theory, but observers feel that there was more to the decision.

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Although polls showed O’Leary in the lead in the race, his potential for growth in a second or third ballot was apparently rather anemic and that could have created a scenario where O’Leary lost support as the balloting dragged on.

His poor French language skills were a problem, but so too was his thinly veiled apathy for the politics of the race.

He continued to spend a great deal of time on American television instead of partaking in the minutia of the political process:  the debates, the glad-handing and outreach to grassroots voters to win their support.

That kind of stuff may seem tedious to someone like Kevin O’Leary, but as successful politicians will tell you, that’s how you win elections.

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