"Flabbergasted." That's the word that Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman used to describe his reaction to a weekend vote to unite the political right in Alberta.
Delegates from both the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose Parties voted 95 per cent to merge them and form the United Conservative Party of Alberta.
"I was expecting something north of 80-85 per cent in the Wildrose situation," Strankman confessed. "I really didn't have an opinion on where the PC organization would come out at."
"It's an interesting time for Alberta," he opined. "I'm already looking forward to something beyond just getting rid of the NDP, to restoring the Alberta advantage."
Now that the membership of both parties has voted for unification, Strankman noted a lot of work will have to be done to combine their forces in the ridings such as Drumheller-Stettler.
Party leaders Jason Kenney and Brian Jean have already announced they will contest the united party leadership, as will Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer, and there's talk of Strathmore-Brooks MLA Derek Fildebrandt joining the race as well.
What about Strankman?
"Maybe if I was Derek Fildebrandt's age I might consider it, or Nathan Cooper. These are young men who quite possibly have political careers in front of them, but I'm approaching Canadian retirement age, so I'd be happy to be the bat boy on a really good team, but a leadership role just isn't in the cards."