Tory leadership frontrunner Gary Mar has landed some additional solid support in his bid for party leader.
Ted Morton, Doug Griffiths and Rick Orman, who were struck off the first round of voting this past weekend, have thrown their support behind Mar. The next phase of selecting a new leader in Alberta picks up Oct. 1.
Mar, Doug Horner and Alison Redford will square off for a second leadership vote after Mar garnered the most support this past weekend (41% of votes cast) in the first round of ballots.
But not quite enough to land him leader of the party — candidates need more than half of ballots cast.
Morton, Orman and Griffiths finished behind the top three and will not advance.
Meanwhile, Morton and Orman announced they’d be backing Mar on Monday.
“Gary represents a strong fiscal voice and has the experience to balance a budget,” said Morton. “He also knows how to build consensus within the party and with our key partners in the federal government,” he said.
Orman added that Mar “Understands the importance of balancing revenue and spending, and having spent time in Washington advocating for Alberta’s interests, Gary is the candidate with the broad experience necessary to lead this province. He has not been part of recent government decisions and he has the ability to move Alberta forward at this critical time in our history.”
On Tuesday, Griffiths announced he would also be supporting Mar.
“He speaks his mind, has a breadth of experience, and has earned broad-based support across our province,” he said. “Albertans are changing, the province is changing, and the PC party is changing also. Gary has the ability to lead that change and to bring the party together under a renewed vision.”
Mar was thrilled with the support.
“I am humbled and honoured to have the support of Ted and Rick. They have the respect of Albertans, the insight and experience to make a real difference and they both ran exceptional campaigns. Ted and Rick bring their commitment to strong fiscal policy and clear change in how government can work better.
“I also need their contributions going forward and their assistance in working on national and international issues critical to Alberta.”
He said he was also grateful for Griffiths’ support, which was just announced Tuesday.
“I am extremely pleased that Doug has decided to join our team. Doug ran a campaign of integrity with one hundred per cent volunteers. He brings a fresh perspective and is the voice of many young Alberta families. He champions for change and always presents stimulating, creative ideas.
“With Doug’s support and enthusiasm, I know we will be a stronger team. The unity of the party is growing thanks to the support of these candidates and MLAs over the past few days. It is clear Albertans want positive change. This is the start of rebuilding and unifying our party, and I am honoured to be leading this momentum,” said Mar.
Bill Smith, president of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, said the next couple of weeks will certainly be a whirlwind of activity.
“I’m guessing the three candidates and their campaigns will take about an hour off, then get back at it with a vengeance,” he said. “This has been such a good rebuilding process for the PCAA with thousands people getting involved in this very important process.”
About 1,000 people came to the Metropolitan Conference Centre last weekend to watch the results come in.
Advance polls for the second ballot will be held Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.