Hughes looking into PC leadership

CALGARY — The first potential contender to replace Alberta Premier Alison Redford has expressed an interest publicly.

CALGARY — The first potential contender to replace Alberta Premier Alison Redford has expressed an interest publicly.

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes sent an email addressed to volunteers and supporters on Saturday announcing he’ll explore the possibility of seeking the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party.

“Over the next couple of weeks I will be listening to what Albertans think about my credentials for the job. This will be facilitated through a website we have set up and an ”exploratory committee“ I am establishing,” Hughes writes.

“This is not a formal committee, as much as it is a group of like-minded citizens whose opinions I value. You are all invited to participate.”

Hughes, who just turned 60, served as a member of Parliament from 1988 to 1993. He later became chair of Alberta Health Services from 2008 to 2011, before being elected to the Alberta legislature in 2012.

Hughes served as energy minister before taking over his current portfolio.

He promises more details about his plans will be coming soon.

“I value the support and counsel you have given me over the past two years. I ask you for that continued support and counsel going forward,” Hughes writes.

“Please consider getting involved in whatever way you feel appropriate, from offering advice and insight through to other activities.”

Redford announced her resignation last Wednesday after criticism about her spending habits and character leading to a near caucus revolt. Her last day as premier is Sunday.

Her spiral began when it surfaced that she had spent $45,000 on first-class air tickets and a government plane to go to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa.

Other revelations included Redford using government planes for a vacation; to fly her daughter and her daughter’s friends around; and to go to a family funeral in Vancouver.

There were calls for her to repay the money for the South Africa trip. She apologized, but at first refused to pay the money back, and then did so only after tensions within her caucus became public.

Former premier Ralph Klein’s long-time friend and advisor, Rod Love, said plenty of people will be testing the waters in the first days after a leader resigns.

“This will be my fourth leadership. In the first 48 hours you’ve got everybody from (former leadership candidate) Jim Dinning to the Pope, the Easter Bunny, Gary Mar, and half the front bench,” he said earlier this week.

Love doesn’t believe former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice would be interested and that his aspirations will likely lead to the federal Conservative leadership at some point.

He said he has a lot of respect for Dinning, who is on holiday in California and not commenting on his intentions.

Follow @)BillGraveland on Twitter

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