Updated: Second candidate drops from race in Boundary-Similkameen

Marji Basso, the BC NDP candidate for Boundary-Similkameen, has resigned, one week after the resignation of Liberal MLA John Slater.

Marji Basso

Marji Basso

They’re dropping like flies.

At least, it seems like it. In another bizarre twist for the Boundary-Similkameen riding, the NDP’s candidate for MLA has suddenly declared that she will not be running in the May 2013 election.

Effective today, the release from the provincial NDP reads, Marji Basso has resigned her candidacy.

Basso’s resignation falls close on the heels of the resignation from the Liberal caucus by John Slater, the sitting Liberal MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. It also comes after a mysterious blog post by political commentator Alex Tsakumis, who, last Thursday, published a column directed at both Slater and Basso, entitled “Please call me ASAP … I won’t wait past today.”

Tsakumis claimed to have “exceedingly disturbing information” about Slater and Basso that would hand the riding to Linda Larson, the new Liberal candidate, if released.

“The details of what I have are demonstrable proof that neither Basso nor Slater have the principled judgment to be in public life,” reads Tsakumis’ column, which requested both candidates call him before he decided to publish his information.

In response to an email questioning her on the subject of the Tsakumis column, Basso simply replied: “Trying to straighten it out now, thanks.” BC NDP Provincial secretary Jan O’Brien said she received a letter from Basso Sunday, stating she was stepping down for personal reasons.

Tsakumis said that Slater contacted him, though Basso did not contact him directly.

“I spoke to John Slater, he called me and was very frank and honest. I appreciated that,” said Tsakumis, who lists among his credits that he is a former provincial aide and a political advisor to former premier Bill VanderZalm during his time in office.

“She (Basso) never called me, she had her surrogates from the NDP central office call me, which I thought was terribly cowardly,” continued Tsakumis.

Basso, who was selected as candidate just last year, has not made any public comments about her reasons for stepping away from the NDP candidacy.

“We accept Ms. Basso’s resignation,” said O’Brien. “We will be working with the local NDP constituency association to begin the candidate nomination process as quickly as possible.”

Tsakumis wouldn’t go on the record with what his information was, though he does say he has verified it and its release would have been damaging both personally and politically to the two candidates. He is, however, satisfied with the outcome, now that both Basso and Slater have resigned and he has no plans to release the information or continue with the story.

“I think that is the right thing for both of them to do,” said Tsakumis. “It just demonstrates that they both care more about their families than they do about being in public life. I think that’s refreshing. “

Depending on how you count them, Basso’s resignation is the third for Boundary Similkameen in the last week. On Jan. 14, Slater announced his resignation, protesting the party’s refusal to endorse his candidacy for the upcoming spring provincial election.

But Slater announced that not only would he be sitting as an independent for the remainder of his term, he would also be running as an independent candidate in the next election, a decision that by Friday, he was reconsidering.

While the B.C. Liberal party would only say that they felt he has “personal issues” that would negatively affect his ability to represent the party, rumours came to light that Slater had issues with alcohol, something that both he and his riding president, Zach Poturica, denied.

Slater endured what he called “a brutal week” of questions about why the party had chosen not to support him. Today, Slater’s office issued a release confirming that Slater had chosen not to run, citing the politics of personal destruction as his reason.

“The past couple of weeks have been an extremely emotional roller coaster ride for me. This brutal experience has shown me how tough smear- and fear-based politics can be on people and their families. It is too high a price to pay, at least for me,” said Slater, in his release. “I cannot put my family or myself through the continual barrage of innuendos and smear which have been launched against me, and which will continue until I withdraw as a candidate in the upcoming provincial election. So I say, “Enough.”

Slater said he was grateful for both the trust the people of the riding placed in him when he was elected as MLA, as well as to those who supported him over the past couple of weeks.

“Finally, I apologize to those I am letting down by dropping out of the race. I hope you can understand why I cannot continue with my campaign. It is just too much,” said Slater.

Neither Basso nor Slater is presently available for comments regarding their decisions.