Alberta may be known as the birthplace of the modern Conservative party, but it appears few Albertans are intent on giving the party new life.
Only one MP from Alberta, Deepak Obhrai, has declared his intention to run for Conservative Party leader – and few are touting him as a credible successor to Stephen Harper. Currently there are only four official leadership contenders: Ontario MPs Tony Clement, Kellie Leitch and Michael Chong, and Quebec MP Maxime Bernier.
And although party members don't choose their new leader until next May 27, it seems less and less likely that an Albertan will lead the party into the 2019 election.
That could be because the most high profile choice – Conservative MP Jason Kenney – has chosen to "unite the right" in Alberta and run provincially for the Progressive Conservative leadership. Or it could be because party members believe the way to beat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals and win power again is to branch out from the geographical legacy of Mr. Harper, a Calgarian by way of Toronto.
Or it could simply be that, faced with another term or more in opposition, no one wants the job.
"There's a vacuum right across the leadership," said Duane Bratt, chair and professor at Mount Royal University's department of policy studies in Calgary.
"A lot of the big hitters, for one reason or another, are out of the picture."
That includes Mr. Kenney, Edmonton's interim leader Rona Ambrose, who is forbidden from running according to party rules, as well as one-time big names such as former cabinet minister Jim Prentice, whose own foray into Alberta politics ended in stunning defeat.
Two-term Calgary MP Michelle Rempel, who made a pitch for interim leader in a joint bid with Quebec MP Denis Lebel, is seen as another potential leadership candidate. Ms. Rempel, a 36-year-old former minister of state, is well-regarded in caucus, although Conservatives say they haven't heard of any organization efforts under way, as one would expect from a rookie leadership entrant. Ms. Rempel did not respond to a request for comment.
The West, albeit not Alberta, may yet see representation: Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer, the former Speaker of the Commons, is also considering a bid and will make his decision this fall. The father of five, who grew up in Ottawa, said he doesn't think it matters where a candidate comes from.
"These things tend to come down to personal style, personal approach, leadership qualities, and vision for the party," Mr. Scheer said.
"I don't know how important regional concerns will be."
For some, Mr. Kenney's decision not to join the federal race was the best thing to happen to the Conservative Party.
"The nightmare scenario was there would be a leadership convention and the new leader would be another middle-aged white male from Calgary," said Roger Gibbins, a senior fellow and past president of the Canada West Foundation, a public policy organization.
"You can't build on that."
Former Conservative MP Monte Solberg, who represented Medicine Hat, for 15 years, said for some in the party, there is an "inherent reluctance" to elect somebody from Alberta again.
"People do represent a point of view when they come from a province, and there will be lots of people arguing, and there already are, that this time leaders should come from central Canada or from Atlantic Canada," he said.
One of the clear front-runners is former cabinet minister Peter MacKay, who hails from Nova Scotia. But the father of two young children, who left politics to work in a Toronto law firm, has yet to make a decision. Former cabinet minister Lisa Raitt, who represents the Toronto-area riding of Milton, is also seen as a strong choice, if she decides to run.
Although the roots of the party lay out west, many feel the key to forming government lies in Ontario.
With its 121 seats up for grabs, the most populous province is essential for those who want to win – especially in the Greater Toronto Area known as the 905.
"We have to win in Ontario," Mr. Clement said in an interview. "If we're going to win again, you can't ignore Ontario. That's just the reality of the situation."
And just because a candidate isn't from Alberta, doesn't mean he or she isn't treated like one of its own.
Mr. Solberg said that the recent federal Conservative Party Stampede BBQ, where Mr. Harper endorsed Mr. Kenney for PC leader, one of the most well-received guests was Mr. Bernier, known for his Libertarian and small government views.
"He's very popular here," Mr. Solberg said of the Quebec politician.
At this stage, Mr. Solberg said, the race is wide open. And that's what makes it all the more interesting.
"The field, as it is right now, there's no clear front-runner," he said.
"So everyone's got a shot."