Staff quits but Bertschi says he's still in Liberal race

David Bertschi says he has every intention of staying in the Liberal leadership race, despite his campaign manager quiting because he felt Bertschi couldn't raise enough money.

Leadership hopeful says he's calling in pledges to meet expense filing deadline

David Bertschi says he has every intention of staying in the Liberal leadership race, despite the departure of his campaign manager because he felt Bertschi was about to be kicked out of the race by the party for lack of funds.

Bertchi's financial agent has quit as well.

Bertschi's campaign manager, Kevin Chalmers, a 28-year veteran of political campaigns, is now working for Joyce Murray's campaign. 

Chalmers told CBC News that Bertschi is a great candidate, "but the reality is there are very tight rules and while I've been able to keep the campaign within those rules, there's a question as to how long you can go without realities catching up to you."

If he stayed with the campaign, Chalmers said, "It would be a law of diminishing returns."

He explained the rules impose a cap of $25,000 of debt that can be accumulated during the campaign, on top of the $75,000 of debt that is allowed to cover the entry fee for each candidate.

The Liberal party is strict about enforcing these limits, he said, and insists on regular filings. The next filing date is March 15, and he feared Bertschi couldn't meet his campaign expenses without exceeding the debt cap.

"You now have to roll in February, and the question is, have you raised enough funds to keep within the $25,000 cap, which was at about 18 and a half (thousand), or something, and pay for all the expenses, like the travel, etc. for the month of January and still fit within the guidelines," Chalmers said.

"He's been legal up 'til now," Chalmers added. "He [Bertschi] can fundraise the hell out of himself for the next four days, and make sure he's under the limit, or he has to make a decision, because the party will impose sanctions on anyone who doesn't meet the rules."

Money's coming in

Bertschi says fundraising is exactly what he's doing. "We're well on our way, we're more than half-way there, in just one day."  He's been calling in pledges, he said, reminding people "gently and kindly" that they'd promised him money and it was time to pay up.

Bertschi said he couldn't say how much he's collected during his one-day blitz, because the tallies were still coming in.

"We don't have Justin Trudeau-ish funds flowing into our coffers, but we have money that keeps up well below and well in compliance so that's the key," he added.

"I'm not under any delusions," he said.

On Friday afteroon, Murray's campaign, which is said to gathering momentum as the race continues, issued a press release saying it has "secured the endorsement of Kevin Chalmers, who recently stepped down as National Campaign Director for fellow Liberal leadership candidate David Bertschi and is joining the team."

Murray is a B.C. Liberal MP, and the only leadership candidate to propose electoral cooperation with the NDP and the Green Party in the 2015 election, in order, she says, to avoid vote-splitting and defeat the Conservatives.

The new Liberal leader will be announced on April 14.