OTTAWA — Conservative leadership candidates are shifting their attention from signing up new members to locking in their all-important votes now that the crucial membership deadline has passed.

Clinching those votes will take money and momentum and the campaigns were out in force Wednesday making the pitch for one to sustain the other until voting day on May 27.

First out of the blocks to declare membership numbers after the midnight cut-off for new sign ups was businessman, reality-TV star and leadership upstart Kevin O’Leary, declaring he had enlisted 35,336 members in the 69 days he’s been officially in the race.

O’Leary’s rival, Maxime Bernier entered the race over a year ago. His campaign said Wednesday membership numbers were still being tallied, but weren’t far off from O’Leary’s.

They’re tied in recent fundraising too, according to duelling fundraising pitches, with each campaign seeking to outdo the other by Friday, the end of the year’s first quarter.


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