Just after another candidate entered the race, the Alberta Liberals threw out the rules on their leadership contest and introduced new ones designed to bring more people into the party.
The new rules, agreed upon at a party convention this past weekend, open up the contest significantly by allowing all Albertans — party members or not — to vote for the next leader on Sept. 10.
The leadership contest is now a four-way race after the entry of Calgary labour leader Bruce Payne, who threw his hat in the ring last week.
Party president Erick Ambtman said opening the leadership race to all Albertans will ultimately give the party a better leader. He said the Liberals have a lot more voters than it does members and there is no reason members should have the only say. By opening up the doors the party also hopes to attract new people.
"We have 3,000 people making a decision on behalf of 250,000 people, and if those 3,000 people don't get it right then you have a problem," he said. "It is about opening it up and getting more people involved."
Supporters of the party will be able to vote in nomination meetings and leadership votes, but decisions about policy and party structure will still rest with members.
"Membership is still going to have its benefits," Ambtman said. "If anything, I will hope this will drive our memberships up."
The party also made another change to its leadership process that party leaders hope will push the Liberal brand into all four corners of the province.
The new system will award a maximum of 500 points to leadership hopefuls, for each constituency in the province. That means ridings with a few thousand supporters and riding with a few dozen will have the same pull at the convention.
"Our leadership candidates are going to have an incentive to go and knock on some doors and get people involved," Ambtman said.
He added he doesn't anticipate concerns from party supporters because everyone is working toward the same goal.
"People who are supporters of the party want to see it do well and winning and forming government means you have to have broad-based support."
Payne, the first non-MLA to enter the race, said he believes he can broaden the party's reach.
"I believe I will be able to attract people from a broad spectrum of Alberta."
Payne said he wants the party to clearly stamp itself as a centrist solution for Albertans and then go out and make that case.
"Alberta Liberals need to have a clear identity of where we are and not let someone else identify that," he said.
The party has worn labels that have nothing to do with its present incarnation, he added.
"We are not the Trudeau government. We are not the people who brought in the national energy plan. Those things are in the rear-view mirror and I want to help Albertans focus on the windshield."