The Alberta Party says well known candidates joining its leadership race is a sign of increased attraction to the party.

Wednesday saw former Edmonton mayor, Alberta health minister and PC MLA Stephen Mandel join the running to replace former leader Greg Clark. He will be running against former UCP turned independent MLA Rick Fraser, who joined the party to run for leader on Tuesday, energy lawyer Kara Levis and Jacob Huffman.

Alberta Party Leadership Communications Director Robbie Kreger-Smith says their centrist approach has increased momentum for the party.

“Currently in the legislature and certainly online in the political discourse it’s hyper partisan and polarized. There’s a lot of rhetoric. Greg Clark and now Karen McPherson who just joined the caucus have done a really good job in the legislature of trying to have a constructive relationship with the government and really provide intelligent criticism and an opportunity to try and strengthen and make legislation better.”

Kreger-Smith says the increased interest in the leadership campaign could also create an interest in candidate-ship even in ridings who have never had an Alberta Party candidate.

“We’re certainly seeing an uptick in interests in the party. We had constituencies where we’ve never had members or inquiries or interest before. I think that the performance of the MLAs in the legislature, the messaging of the party and the credibility that’s lend by having established political operators coming in, all of that is contributing towards attracting people with more credibility to the party.”

Nominations for the leadership will close January 15th. Following that, a leadership meet and greet has been scheduled for Grande Prairie, which is billed as the first leadership event of the campaign.

The local constituency association will be hosting members and the public at the Pomeroy Hotel from 6:45 to 9 p.m. on January 25th. The event is free but registration is requested.

Written by Dan Soul, 106.1 The Goat