07/22/2015 02:36 EDT | Updated 07/22/2016 05:59 EDT

Peter MacKay: Successor Faces Fight To Win Central Nova Riding

HALIFAX - Peter MacKay says the Tories vying to take over his job as MP for the federal riding of Central Nova face tough battles, first in a hotly contested nomination and then in the fall election.

The Justice Minister said Wednesday in Halifax the two candidates trying for the party nomination in the northern Nova Scotia riding are in a close race as weekend meetings draw near.

He also says the winner will go on to run at a time when the electorate may be weary of a decade of Conservative government.

MacKay announced on May 29 that he wouldn't seek re-election in the fall federal election in the riding, which has been a Tory stronghold under MacKay and his father Elmer MacKay.

Sixty-year-old Jim Ryan, retired high school principal, is contesting the nomination in Central Nova on Friday and Saturday against Fred DeLorey, who has worked as a party activist on national campaigns under Stephen Harper.

Both of the nomination candidates are citing past ties with MacKay, who says he's not officially supporting either candidate in the race.

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