Brian Jean won 68 per cent of the vote against Joshua Gogo, the candidate backed by Kenney to be the UCP candidate for the Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche byelection.
If Jean wins the seat in a race against the opposition (set to occur in March), he will join the UCP as a key rival against the Premier in time for the April 9 leadership review in Red Deer.
“I will not be supporting him (Kenney) in the leadership review and will be asking for his resignation as soon as possible,” Jean said in an interview.
Premier Kenney has said he will accept the man he defeated for the UCP leadership in 2017 if he should lose.
Jean is already out campaigning as if he’s the premier-in-waiting.
“I’m going to travel the province and listen to Albertans, renew the United Conservative Party and give the people what I believe they’re looking for, which is hope and change,” Jean said.
He says he will “absolutely” be a candidate for the leadership. “I am putting myself forward for Albertans.”
Jean adds that his campaign shows that “the same people who voted with their feet by leaving the party are now voting with their feet by coming back.
“They’re coming back because they’re searching for renewal of the UCP. They’ve given me a mandate to get things back on track. The NDP are going to win an overwhelming majority in the next election if Jason Kenney does not leave and leave soon. We’ll be lucky to win back the hearts and minds of Albertans with the amount of time that’s left. Remember, it takes months to organize a leadership campaign and to make sure we focus on a good campaign. And there’s going to be a new brand behind whoever the leader is. If Jason Kenney really does care for this party, he should know at this stage what is the right thing in his heart, and he should do that thing.”
Currently, the by-election sees the NDP running candidate Ariana Mancini, whereas Paul Hinman has turned up as a candidate for the Wildrose Independence Party. It is possible that the latter may take some support from Jean, giving the seat to Mancini.