By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Drew Barnes ended two years of speculation at the last minute last week, stating he wouldn’t seek re-election in Cypress-Medicine Hat.
That avoids crowding the right side of the ballot in the general election, which began May 1 and ends May 29.
It also ends two years of speculation since the three-term MLA was removed from the UCP caucus in 2021, and continued to criticize party discipline and government fiscal policy as an independent.
In a social media video, Barnes thanked his family and constituents for their support, and stated he would remain active in political causes that he supported since first elected in 2012 as a Wildrose party candidate.
“The fight that so many of us have shared in is going to continue and I will be happy to share parts of it,” he said, outlining democratic reform, the push to develop a provincial constitution and bring in citizen ballot initiatives.
“Those will continue,” he said, adding constituents are still dedicated to “government that spends less so they can tax less and allow freedoms and families to be bigger, let’s continue that as well.”
Barnes declined further media requests.
He sought the Wildrose leadership in 2015 and was re-elected that year for the party, then as a United Conservative in 2019 running afoul of former UCP leader Jason Kenney.
His retirement leaves two main candidates in the race: Cathy Hogg of the NDP and Justin Wright of the UCP, both wining nomination contests in the past two months.
To this point, nominations have been conducted by party internal processes and now those candidates can register with Elections Alberta.
The registration deadline to appear on the ballot is at the conclusion of the nomination period at 2 p.m. May 11.
Races for other ridings in the greater southeast Alberta region are also forming as the election writ was issued.
In Taber-Warner, UCP candidate and incumbent Grant Hunter will face NDP candidate Jazminn Hintz. The Calgary-based party worker was named the candidate on April 29. Also in the race is Green Party of Alberta candidate Joel Hunt.
Ag minister Nate Horner is running for the United Conservatives in Drumheller-Stettler, which includes the Special Areas No. 2, He will face Julie Franklin, a pharmacist based in Hanna, of the New Democrats.