Saskatchewan NDP leadership candidate Erin Weir has announced he’s dropping out of the race and throwing his support behind Ryan Meili.

Weir made the announcement Wednesday at a joint news conference with Meili in Regina.

“Saskatchewan NDP members need to make an important decision about the direction of our party. That’s why I’m encouraging them to vote for Ryan Meili,” Weir said.

“His comments in leadership debates across the province reflect Ryan’s commitment to many of the same proposals that I have put forward.”

Recent polling showed Weir was lagging behind a three-way race between Meili, who is a Saskatoon doctor, Saskatoon MLA Cam Broten and Regina MLA Trent Wotherspoon.

“I’m so pleased to accept his endorsement and so happy that we can work together going forward,” Meili said.

“I really believe that this is a head start on building the unity that we need to build coming out of this race.”

New Democrats will choose a new leader at a party convention March 9 in Saskatoon. So far, about 2,100 of the party’s roughly 11,000 members have cast their votes.

With files from CTV Saskatoon