Michelle Rempel Garner says she will not enter the race to lead Alberta's United Conservative Party, putting an end to weeks of speculation that the Calgary Tory MP would make a run to replace the outgoing leader, Premier Jason Kenney.
In a blog posting Thursday morning, Rempel Garner said that while she was grateful for the many offers of encouragement to run for the leadership, she decided against it for two main reasons — that she wants to keep serving her Calgary constituents as a federal MP, and the "present internal UCP caucus dynamic."
"I think Albertans would be better served if right now I stayed in the important role they've already given to me, and if I respected the UCP caucus in giving it the space it needs to figure its stuff out," she said in her post.
Who's running for the UCP leadership
As recently as Wednesday, signals were still being sent that Rempel Garner was building up to a bid announcement.
The campaign manager for Patrick Brown's bid to lead the federal Conservative Party, Sean Schnell, stepped away from that job to take a role in Rempel Garner's possible UCP campaign.
Schnell had worked for Rempel Garner's office before either leadership race began.
On June 15, the MP for Calgary Nose Hill posted a long Twitter thread indicating she was giving serious consideration to running to replace Kenney.
"This is not a decision that should be taken lightly by anyone," she tweeted at the time.
But on Thursday, she announced, despite "all the stars" being aligned and nothing really stopping her, that she had serious concerns about leading the UCP caucus.
Rempel Garner says she's heard "there is a significant level of hurt and uncertainty" in that team.
The MP says there are divisions within that caucus and questioned how she would be able to lead it as an outsider.
Rempel Garner says not running "has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make."