TORONTO - Ontario's New Democrats will have more than half their candidates nominated by the end of the month, a sign the party has momentum heading into this fall's election, Leader Andrea Horwath said Monday.

The NDP plans to nominate 30 candidates over the next two weeks, bringing their total to about 60 by the time it releases its election platform at a conference in Toronto June 24.

Horwath said there has been more interest this year than in previous elections, fuelled in part by excitement over the party's strong federal showing at the polls last month.

"There's no doubt that the energy that the federal election brought with the victories of our federal team have created wind under our wings and created excitement," she said. "In fact, we have contested nominations in places all over the province, places where we've had a difficult time finding a candidate in the past."

The party currently holds 10 seats at the provincial legislature. It will be losing one of their most well-known and respected members, Peter Kormos, who announced earlier this month he would not be seeking re-election on Oct. 6.

While small in numbers, the NDP has set the agenda at Queen's Park on a number of fronts since Horwath became leader in 2009. While observers have been impressed by how the party has become stronger over the past two years, they've also said Horwath's true test will be whether she can win more seats.

The Ontario party -- which was reduced to nine seats in the 1999 general election and lost official party status until 2004 -- is also running high from the success of their federal cousins. The NDP saw a record 103 of its candidates elected to Parliament last month, making the party the official Opposition in Ottawa.

But those federal wins were not without controversy. One candidate, former bar manager Ruth Ellen Brosseau, won her Quebec riding even though she vacationed in Las Vegas during the campaign, had never visited the riding and was not fluent in French.

Transportation Minister and Liberal campaign co-chair Kathleen Wynne warned against using the federal election as a measure for what may happen provincially, saying the two battles involve different parties and different issues.

"I think that's their dream, but I don't think it's grounded in reality," Wynne said.

The Liberals have nominated more than half of their candidates already, she added, and would never have a candidate who would give them the kind of surprises faced by federal NDP Leader Jack Layton with people like Brosseau.

"Given the trouble that Mr. Layton had federally, people in Ontario need to pay pretty close attention to who those NDP candidates are," said Wynne.

Horwath said her party worked hard to vet candidates, who range from former mayors to auto workers, and is confident in their credentials and backgrounds.

"I would not give people that advice, to go on vacation during a campaign, because it's going to be a very exciting campaign," she joked after being asked about the federal controversy.

The Progressive Conservatives have had 90 nomination meetings so far, with five more coming within the next two weeks.