Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney has a high profile, but pundits say that doesn’t mean he won't face a challenge from the moderate wing of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party now that he's running for leadership.
Edmonton Journal Columnist Graham Thomson told CTV News Channel that Kenney is attempting a “reverse takeover of the PC Party” by the further-right Wildrose Party, which is closer to his heart.
“It could be a difficult race for him,” Thomson said. “A lot of the PCs do not want to merge with the Wildrose.”
Dave Cournoyer, who has been blogging about Alberta politics since 2005, agrees that the moderate wing of the PCs may put up a fight. He sees at least three potential challengers.
Jansen worked as a broadcaster for two decades before she was hired for a communications job by PC premier Alison Redford in 2011. She won the riding of Calgary-North West in 2012 and was re-elected in 2015.
Cournoyer says Jansen is known for being “outspoken” on social issues. She handled the controversial Bill 10, which aims to protect LGBTQ students.
Jansen broke with many in the party and endorsed Liberal candidates in the 2015 federal election.
She told CTV Calgary last week that she will quit if Kenney ends up leader. “The party to me, the Progressive Conservative Party… is socially progressive and fiscally conservative and those values are extremely important to me,” she said.
“I’m not a social conservative and I’m not interested in sitting in a blended caucus,” she added.
Cournoyer says having Jansen as leader would provide a clear contrast to the Wildrose Party.
But her relationship with Alison Redford, whom she’s known for at least three decades, is political baggage, he adds. Jansen and her daughter were on one of the infamous flights for which Redford billed taxpayers, before she stepped down in 2013.
Lukaszuk is a proud Polish immigrant, father of two and former high school teacher.
He was the PC MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs from 2001 until 2015.
Before losing his seat, Lukaszuk held a number of cabinet portfolios, including education and deputy premier.
He ran against Jim Prentice and current for the leadership in 2014 but got just 11 per cent of the votes.
Cournoyer says Lukaszuk is “known as a moderate on social issues but a very divisive personality -- he’s a fighter.”
Lukaszuk has made a few enemies in the party. For example, he was a lone dissenting vote against Jansen’s Bill 10.
Like Jansen, Lukaszuk is not a fan of Kenney, who once called him a “complete and utter asshole” in an email to another Conservative MP.
Lukaszuk has said he doesn’t think Kenney should be allowed to run.
After a career as a veterinarian, Starke was elected in 2012 to the seat of Vermillion-Lloydminster. He served as Tourism, Parks and Recreation Minister under Redford.
“He seems folksy, is seen as a nice guy and a likeable candidate,” said Cournoyer. “I’ve never got the impression he’s from the right-wing.”
Starke’s big advantage, according to Cournoyer, is that he’s one of the few PCs from a rural area.
“Generally, it’s accepted that you have to win two of the three – rural Alberta, Edmonton and Calgary -- to form a majority government,” he said.