Spruce Grove-St. Albert MLA Doug Horner has thrown his support behind Jim Prentice in the Progressive Conservative leadership race.
The finance minister's endorsement is not likely to surprise many after he opted out of the leadership race last week, saying at the time he planned to support a candidate who hadn't formally declared his intentions.
The PC leadership race nomination period got underway on Thursday and Prentice picked up his nomination papers the same day – papers that Horner has since signed.
On Thursday, Horner tweeted “Glad to see @JimPrentice enter the #pcldr race. I stand 100% behind him. Looking forward to signing the nomination papers! #ableg #pcaa.”
In an interview Friday, Horner confirmed his support for the former federal cabinet minister, joining a growing list of MLAs who've endorsed Prentice.
“The next leader of our party needs to be someone who can lead caucus and I think Jim has all of those abilities, he certainly has the experience,” Horner said.
That's not to say others don't have the experience necessary, but Horner said he believes “comfortably” that Prentice will be in a position to lead caucus and bring them together as a team.
“Jim has a history of being a team leader and that's what we need in our group right now,” he said.
Horner quoted Prentice's decades-long membership in the provincial PC party as well an understanding of Alberta, as well as issues facing the province, as reasons he's offering support.
“He understands the province because he's been all over it, so I feel comfortable that he can represent not only north and south but rural and urban,” Horner said.
Horner said there are similarities between Prentice and what would have been Horner's plans.
“I think his platform, when he comes out with a platform, will mirror a lot of things that I would have done as a leadership candidate,” Horner said. “Certainly a lot of the same supporters that were backing me are backing Jim now … there's a lot of the same there.”
Horner said he thinks Prentice is the person who can bring together a vision for all Albertans, the party and the caucus.
“The reason that I'm supporting Jim is because he believes what I believe in, the values and principles of our party,” Horner said, adding he feels his constituents would be well-served by a leader who has the same principled approach as his own.
The PC leadership vote will be held in September. The nomination period ends May 30.
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