UCP cabinet ministers considering running to replace Kenney

Several of Jason Kenney’s cabinet ministers would not rule out launching a campaign for his job on Tuesday as MLAs headed back into the legislature.

Kenney clarified on Saturday that he will not add his name to the upcoming United Conservative Party leadership race, prompted by his resignation last week.

“I haven’t made up my mind as of yet. I am still deliberating. I obviously have to speak with my family, my constituency as well as Albertans across the province,” Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney told reporters Tuesday.

“I haven’t ruled anything out, I will be doing what’s best for the party, what I think is best for the party under the lens we stay united and defeat the NDP in a year,” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon.

“There are many details that need to be decided by the party and right now we really just need to be focused on the people,” said Finance Minister Travis Toews.

Children’s Services Minster Rebecca Schulz said: “It’s too early to say.” 

UCP MLA and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean has already announced his intention to run for leader as has Danielle Smith, also a former leader of the Wildrose.

Four people who have removed their names from speculation are Ministers Tyler Shandro, Jason Copping, Demetrios Nicolaides and Doug Schweitzer.

Schweitzer, who ran for UCP leader in 2017 against Kenney and Jean, also announced that he will not seek reelection in Calgary-Elbow.

“I think it’s a big deal he is not running…That’s an interesting riding, and not a guaranteed win for the UCP, ” said pollster and political commentator Janet Brown.

“Schweitzer’s name was really the top of the list in terms of the more centrist candidate who could be a credible alternative to Danielle Smith or Brian Jean.”

Kenney has said he will stay on as leader and premier until a new person is chosen.

It’s not known when that will happen, as a UCP spokesperson said Tuesday that the party is still appointing a committee to establish contest timelines, fees and rules.

Former federal Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose and Tory MP Michelle Remple Garner have also been said to be considering running for UCP leader.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Chelan Skulski and The Canadian Press

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