05/06/2015 05:35 EDT | Updated 05/06/2016 05:59 EDT

Challengers Of Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger Win Party Nominations

WINNIPEG - Two Manitoba New Democrats who challenged Premier Greg Selinger's leadership have won the right to run again under the party banner in next year's election.

Andrew Swan and Jennifer Howard were unopposed in recent days as the deadline for nominations passed in their respective Winnipeg constituencies of Minto and Fort Rouge. Once their nominations become official later this month, they will be tasked with asking voters in their area to support a premier they sought to topple earlier this year.

"Nobody who takes a look at politics can deny that I'm a solid New Democrat, I'm proud to be a New Democrat and I'm very pleased that I'll be able to run under the NDP banner," Swan said Wednesday.

"I will say that I believe Greg Selinger is the best choice to lead this province," Howard said, when asked how she might respond to voters' questions about her position.

Howard was finance minister and Swan held the justice portfolio last October, when they and three other senior cabinet members publicly suggested Selinger consider resigning in the wake of continued low polling numbers.

Selinger rejected the idea and called for a leadership contest at the NDP's annual convention in March, while Swan, Howard and the other rebels resigned from their cabinet duties. Selinger beat Theresa Oswald, another of the rebels, by just 33 votes to retain his reins on the party.

The revolt caused a rupture in the party, and the rebels had their caucus privileges restricted until last month, when they were welcomed back after a NDP retreat at a monastery north of Winnipeg.

When asked whether the lack of a challenger for his nomination is a sign that the party has reunited, Swan deferred.

"I think it's a sign that we are proud to be New Democrats and we are looking forward to the next election."

Howard said the reunification of the party is ongoing.

"As a caucus, we are working together. You know, it's a work in progress, but we are working together, and we are going to be a solid team to run in this election."

There is no word yet on the fate of the other rebels. Nomination dates have not been set for the constituencies held by Oswald, a former jobs and economy minister; Erin Selby, who was health minister; and Stan Struthers, who held the municipal affairs portfolio. Oswald and Selby have said they were taking time to consider whether to run again.

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