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Table set for race to replace Christy Clark as BC Liberal leader

‘I guess I’ll never see any of you ever again’: Clark addresses media at final press conference
WATCH: 'I guess I'll never see any of you ever again': Clark addresses media at final press conference

The race to replace Christy Clark as the leader of the BC Liberals and Official Opposition is on.

The party announced Tuesday that it will select a new leader on February 4, 2018, after a two-day online and telephone vote.

LISTEN:The race to become the next leader of the BC Liberal Party is officially under way

No one has officially thrown their hat in the ring for the leader’s job, however intense speculation has surrounded several potential candidates.

READ MORE: Christy Clark to resign as leader of BC Liberal party next week

Former Surrey Mayor and Conservative MP Dianne Watts has said she’s mulling a run, as has Vancouver-False Creek MLA and former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.

Former education minister Mike Bernier and former Attorney General Andrew Wilkinson are also said to be considering their options, along with newcomer and Vancouver-Langara MLA Micheal Lee.

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The Liberals are instituting a number of changes to the selection process over the 2011 race that saw Clark named premier.

The contest will be about six weeks longer, and candidates will be able to spend up to $600,000 this time — up from $450,000 in 2011.

READ MORE: Christy Clark resigns as B.C.’s 35th premier, having fought to the end

The party says the increase reflects the longer race, inflation, and B.C.’s growing population.

Candidates will also no longer be able to exempt personal expenses from their spending totals.

Any cash left in candidate’s campaign funds after the vote will go into party coffers.

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And another change: voters will also have to verify their identity ahead of the vote as opposed to using PIN numbers sent to them in a mailout.

Entry fees for leadership hopefuls total $50,000, half of which must be paid by December 29, along with a refundable $10,000 deposit that could be forfeit if candidates break the contest’s rules.

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READ MORE: ‘A leader needs to know when it’s time to go’: Christy Clark on her resignation

Voting will be conducted under a preferential ballot system, in which each B.C. riding is given equal weight regardless of population.

Using ranked ballots, rounds of voting will be counted with the lowest scoring candidate dropped until someone has earned more than 50 per cent support.

Former Attorney General Geoff Plant will serve as chief returning officer for the race.