Calgary lawyer David Khan wants to lead Alberta's Liberal Party

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Nominations have now closed for the Alberta Liberal Party's leadership contest and there seems to be only one declared candidate.

David Khan is a lawyer who practices indigenous law and twice unsuccessfully ran in Calgary as a Liberal for a seat in the legislature. He is also the party's executive vice-president.

Calgary lawyer Kerry Cundal has also filed her papers, but says she hasn't decided whether she will actually run.

Khan saw defeat during the 2015 election when the NDP won a majority and the Liberals shrank to just one seat in the legislature. Khan says he hopes to win back voters from the NDP in May 2019.

"We're going to be ready for the next one and we're going to run a much stronger campaign," he said.

"That was a one-time thing, it doesn't mean that (the NDP) are an unbeatable force on the left. It means that Albertans wanted a change and they were the vehicle for that during the last election. But that's not going to be the case in the next election."

While the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative (PC) parties consider merging, both the Liberals and the Alberta Party are vying to be seen by Albertans as a middle ground.

"Now things are shaking out into real groupings of people with similar values and I think that we will be a lot more attractive to those red Tories, for example, who are extremely alienated from the social conservative direction of Jason Kenney and his forces," said Khan.

MLA David Swann has been the Liberal Party's interim leader for the past two years. 

"(We have) two great candidates: David Khan from Calgary Buffalo and Kerry Cundal. Both lawyers, both active in the party, both very concerned about the future of Alberta under a New Democrat government, and under a PC or amalgam government on the right. Looking very much forward to an exciting leadership race over the next two months," he said at an event on Friday night.

Uphill battle, says political analyst

Mount Royal University political analyst Lori Williams says Alberta's Liberal Party faces an uphill battle.

"That time they've been around has been fraught with divisions. They haven't been effective as a party. They haven't shown themselves as a credible alternative," she said.

She says star power can be a factor in a leadership race.

"Unless they've got extraordinarily high profile and can really put a different spin on what the Liberal Party has done, it doesn't look like they've got any traction."

The party plans to announce the new leader on June 4.