Jerome Kennedy, left, and Darin King both said Wednesday they will not seek the Progressive Conservative leadership. ((CBC) )

Two prominent ministers in the Newfoundland and Labrador government said Wednesday they will not compete for the Progressive Conservative leadership, and said they back Kathy Dunderdale as a permanent replacement for Danny Williams.

In separate announcements at Confederation Building, Health Minister Jerome Kennedy and Education Minister Darin King both cited their children as reasons not to pursue the PC leadership.

"The decision is essentially a family decision. I have two teenaged children — ages 13 and 15 in Grade 8 and 10 — and after discussions with my wife and children, it was felt that the timing is not right for me," Kennedy told reporters outside the house of assembly.

CBC News had reported last week that Kennedy, who would be a front-runner in the race, was not going to run for the leadership.

King gave a similar explanation, saying that the timing was not right for him to pursue the leadership and that he has a young family.

"My children are not that old — my son's in grade 11, my daughter's in grade 7 — my wife is a full time professional and I'm sure people would appreciate, its very taxing on the family, just time alone that you're away from home," said King.

"To consider taking on another challenge such as this at this point and time for me, it was our conclusion, that it's not in the best interest for us collectively as a family."

Kennedy said his children were also a dominating factor in his decision, but that wasn't the only factor.

"The other side of it was that if I ran for the leadership, the leadership was a gruelling two- or three-month race and to come out of that then into an election, and so it would basically be a year of my life gone and that's too precious at this time of life — especially at the stage that they're at," he said.

Dunderdale encouraged to run

Kennedy said he and his family made this decision some time ago, and he never canvassed the party for support. Instead, he said, he will encourage Dunderdale to enter the race.

"I will be strongly encouraging Premier Dunderdale to continue in her role. She's done a great job in the first number of weeks we've been there," said Kennedy. "She's very experienced and I'm hoping that she will run for the leadership of the party."

King also said he will support Dunderdale.

Although Dunderdale had ruled out running for the leadership for an expected spring convention when she was sworn in on Dec. 3, she has since opened the door to seeking the job on a permanent basis.