Richard Starke will be staying with his party.
The Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA came in second place over the weekend leadership vote held by the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, up against former Conservative MP Jason Kenney and Calgary lawyer Byron Nelson.
Kenney had been running on the premise of merging the PC Party with the Wildrose Party, to form one united conservative political party in Alberta. After delegate votes were counted on Saturday, Kenney emerged as the clear front-runner. Rough totals from the voting put Kenney at 1113 delegate votes, followed by Starke at 323 and Nelson at 40.
Reached on Monday afternoon, Starke told 106.1 The Goat that he would be staying with the party despite the loss. While he expressed disappointment in the voting result, he said the decision was the will of the party, and thanked his supporters in Vermilion-Lloydminster.
“I’m the MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, elected as a Progressive Conservative,” said Starke.
“It’s my responsibility to the constituents to continue to serve them, and that’s exactly what I’m going to be focused on. I’m going to work with Mr. Kenney, as our new leader, and work towards the objectives that have been laid out.”
Starke said he wanted to make it “very clear” that he wasn’t going anywhere, and not leaving the PC caucus.
“I’m very happy to serve, and looking forward to doing that,” said Starke.
Starke said the relationship between himself and Kenney is professional and respectful, and that Kenney had acknowledged the work ahead for the party would be difficult. As for the unity plan advocated by Kenney, Starke indicated he wanted to be part of the process for developing a new party for both PC and Wildrose members, providing assistance and “helping out”.
“At the present time, I think it’s very important that voices like mine, and others who are like minded, who want to preserve the party’s values and principles, are at that table,” said Starke.
“I would like to be at that table.”
Despite the willingness to help, Starke said he still had concerns about the process proposed by Kenney, with party mergers being illegal in Alberta.
“I have expressed those very clearly through the course of the campaign, and I will continue to do that,” said Starke.
“If a new party forms, I hope to have a hand in it, and if that’s the situation, then of course I would want to be part of that.”
As for a member of the PC caucus stepping down for Kenney to run for a seat in the Alberta legislature, Starke said that Kenney was not expecting for that to happen, or had indicated any intention of seeking a seat in future.