Wheeling and dealing among B.C. Liberal candidates has generated a big boost in George Abbott's quest for the party leadership.

As many as 20 Mike de Jong's organizers and supporters have gone public with their endorsement of rival George Abbott as their second choice in Saturday's vote for the province's next premier.

If the leader is not chosen based on party members' first choice, second-choice votes then come into play. De Jong's implicit support would then increase Abbott's chances to pull out a win.

Former MLA Gulzar Cheema — a key de Jong supporter — has released a list of 18 organizers from the South Asian community who Cheema says believe Abbott has demonstrated he's the person who can reach out to diverse groups and show leadership.

Abbott — who has drawn much of his support in rural BC — said he's thrilled and honoured by the possible infusion of urban support.

"I think it's a significant boost in my chances for the weekend," Abbot said Thursday. "We have great momentum right now."

ii-mike-de-jong-220

Mike de Jong likely has given the nod to some of his supporters to announce their second-choice support for George Abbott. (CBC)

Most polls and pundits rank de Jong fourth in the leadership race, although he insists he's still in the race to win and is not pulling out.

But it's considered unlikely that his organizers would have made the announcement about the second-choice move to Abbott without de Jong's agreement.

Christy Clark and Kevin Falcon have been considered front-runners in the leadership race since they declared their candidacies, but it's not certain if either has enough support to win based on the first-choice vote by party members.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies