Former leader of the Wildrose Party Danielle Smith will be seeking the leadership of the UCP.

She was quick to throw her hat in the ring, announcing her intent to run the morning after Jason Kenney’s announcement that he’d be stepping down from the position.

Smith will be running for the Livingstone-Macleod seat as opposed to Highwood, where she served as MLA during her time as leader of the Wildrose.

During the media availability where she made the announcement, Smith alluded to her previous political career, where she stirred controversy by crossing the floor to join the PC party in 2014.

“I think there is sort of a tendency to think now that I’m deciding that I’m going to jump back into politics seeking the leadership of the UCP that this is just a continuation of my last political life. I would encourage you not to think that way because so much has changed since 2015. I'm sure none of you are the same person you were in 2015 and I’m not either, I’m a mainstream conservative.”

She stressed a desire for unity among Alberta’s conservatives, especially ahead of next year’s provincial election, wanting to avoid a split vote.

“I think it’s very clear that today we’re facing a formidable opposition in the legislature that is unified and we cannot see a fracturing of the conservative movement along the lines of multiple different parties. I felt that when Jim [Prentice] and I made the decision to join forces in 2015, I was cheering along Brian Jean and Jason Kenney as they did it appropriately and properly, consulting the grassroots, and I’m looking forward to making that same argument so we can bring some folks back into the fold.”

As far as potential running mates, Smith pointed to ousted former UCP members Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes.

Smith says she’s in it to win it but would like to see some variety among fellow candidates.

“I welcome as many people in the race as want to participate. To me, the more, the merrier. This is a real opportunity for the United Conservative Party to make sure we're selling memberships, getting volunteers activated, we’re getting people excited again about our vision.”

She pointed to her credentials, having served as a party leader, and having knowledge of both halves that combined to form the UCP. Smith also referred to her experience in the broadcast media, and as a business owner, with her and her husband being owners and operators of The Dining Car at High River Station in High River.

An interim UCP leader has not been announced yet, though Smith indicated she’d like to see Kenney fill the role in order to see his work on reconciliation realized when the pope visits the province in July.