After passing an internal leadership review with 51.4% approval, Kenney announced Wednesday night that he would be stepping down and triggering a leadership race.
Rick Orman, UCP chief returning officer, announced in a live stream broadcast of the results of the leadership review that there were 43,298 votes cast; 17,638 yes votes, and 16,660 no votes.
"It clearly is not adequate support to continue on as leader, and that is why tonight, I have informed the president of the party of my intention to step down as leader of the United Conservative party,” said Kenney. “I’m sorry, but friends, I truly believe we need to move forward united, we need to put the past behind us and our members — a large number of our members — have asked to clear the air through a leadership election.”
The leadership review was plagued with controversy as the vote, originally scheduled to be in-person at the UCP AGM in Red Deer in April, was moved to mail-in balloting after a surge of UCP membership looking to attend the meeting exceeded the capacity of the venue.
Kenney's popularity has plummeted over the course of the pandemic, after the arrests of multiple pastors and high-profile lockdown resisters, the re-imposition of restrictions after promising the "best summer ever" and the adoption of a vaccine passport.
Alberta's next provincial election is slated for May 2023.