Sherman determined to be UCP leader even though his membership waiver was rejected
Former Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman drove up to the podium in a red pickup wrapped in blue graphics Wednesday where he announced his desire to lead the UCP.
"I'm back to give back…It is time that we put power back into the hands of the people," he told reporters in Edmonton.
But Sherman's campaign has a major problem already.
The former PC MLA has only held a United Conservative Party membership since May when he donated $1,000. The rules of the race state candidates must have been members at least six months before the entry deadline in July.
Sherman applied for a membership waiver from the UCP, but it was denied.
"I recognize that I have to do more work to earn the respect and trust of the executive that make the decision on who runs and doesn't run. And I intend to do the work required to get into the leadership race," he explained.
First elected as a Progressive Conservative MLA, Sherman was kicked out of that party in 2010 for speaking out about the state of the health system.
Sherman became Liberal leader in 2011 and was re-elected in Edmonton-Meadowlark in 2012. He resigned as the Liberal leader in 2015. He also donated $4,000 to the Alberta Party in 2021.
While he was Liberal leader, Sherman said he was the "outsider conservative." He also stated that he is a "Paul Martin and Laurence Decore Liberal."
Healthcare concerns now are the main reason Sherman wants back into politics, he said.
"ER wait times are dangerously long and everyday we lose more Albertans to a drug poisoning crisis. This is simply unacceptable," Sherman said.
'IT'S A STUNT': BRATT
Sherman's announcement, and the sincerity of it, was something a pair of Alberta political experts had differing takes on.
"He's not eligible to run, like this is a stunt. And I don't know why he's having this stunt, but it'll be fun to watch," said political scientist Duane Bratt.
The Mount Royal University professor doesn't see any way that the UCP allows Sherman's name on the ballot.
"It's like Howard Stern campaigning to be president of the United States, it's meaningless but it'll be a sideshow," he said with a chuckle.
Campaign strategist Stephen Carter agreed that Sherman will not be the next UCP leader and premier of Alberta, but thinks the effort is sincere.
"He honestly believes that if he puts his mind to it, he will win," Carter told CTV News Edmonton. "The party has said no, and yet Raj Sherman shows up at their doorstep with a bouquet of roses anyway. It's crazy."
As a strategist and chief of staff for former PC premier Alison Redford, Carter knows Sherman and said the former Liberal leader recently called him to be part of his campaign.
"He's deadly serious. He's called me, he's called a whole bunch of operatives to work for him…I'm not running anybody's leadership for the UCP, it's a disaster of a party," Carter said.
Leela Aheer, Jon Horsman, Brian Jean, Todd Loewen, Bill Rock, Rajan Sawhney, Rebecca Schulz, Danielle Smith and Travis Toews have also registered with Elections Alberta to run.
The UCP will not approve or disqualify any candidates until after the application deadline on July 20. A new leader is expected to be chosen on Oct. 6.