There’s another candidate in the race for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party in Alberta, and it’s come in the form of the province’s former Infrastructure Minister.

After resigning from his cabinet position Tuesday afternoon, MLA Ric McIver announced he was taking a run at the leadership of his party Wednesday morning at a news conference in front of his home in Calgary.

Political scientists keeping an eye on the race said McIver’s decision to run comes as a surprise, given the potential plans of another high-profile player, former Member of Parliament Jim Prentice.

“I thought there might be some minor candidates step forward to raise their profile or try to get into cabinet. Rick McIver is going to stay in cabinet. He was one of the best ministers that Redford had, so he doesn’t need to run to get into that cabinet,” says Duane Bratt with Mount Royal University. “Obviously, he thinks he’s got a shot at winning and that he can create a niche that Prentice can’t.”

As of Wednesday, the only official candidate was former Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes - Finance Minister Doug Horner has said he will make an announcement concerning his political future Friday.

Cost of planning premier’s suite revealed

A day before McIvor threw his hat into the ring for the leadership of the PC party, he released the actual cost of planning a controversial top-floor suite in the Federal Building.

Documents showed more than $155,000 was spent on planning the apartment – plans McIvor said were scrapped in January.

“That was money spent planning a residence that didn’t get built,” McIvor said. “The planning was done, and the decision was made not to build it.”

Fellow PC leadership candidate Ken Hughes also took the opportunity to distance himself from the previous premier – saying he wouldn’t defend former premier Alison Redford’s actions.

“A Hughes government would run the province similar to the way I run my small business,” Hughes said. “That is that you spend money like it’s your own.”

As for the leadership race, experts say the one to watch is Prentice, who still hasn’t officially declared his intentions to seek leadership of the party, and the current candidates appear to be attacking their potential competition.

“He’s trying to differentiate himself from Prentice,” Bob Murray, with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy said of McIvor’s announcement. “Part of his strategy in standing in front of his out is the juxtaposition that if Prentice was standing in front of his own home, it would not be a small humble home where he’s standing on the lawn.”

With files from Serena Mah