09/04/2012 01:12 EDT | Updated 11/04/2012 05:12 EST

Big-hitting cabinet minister Rich Coleman to stay on for election; Lekstrom leaves

VICTORIA - Premier Christy Clark received some good news and some bad news Tuesday as she tries to rebuild her government's cabinet in time for the May 2013 British Columbia election.

Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman said he will run again, but Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom said after serving 20 years in elected office, he's had enough.

The Coleman and Lekstrom announcements come as Clark is expected to introduce a re-shuffled cabinet, prompted by announcements by high-profile Liberals that they won't be running for re-election next spring.

Lekstrom, who said he'd been pondering his political future over the summer months, did not rule out returning to politics at a later date, but said it won't be until after the 2013 election.

"I would think the door is open, but right now I want to try something different," he said. "But I would never rule out another run at politics. I never say never."

Lekstrom said he knows Clark is about to shuffle her cabinet, which is why he told her he had decided not to run again.

"This has nothing to do with the premier, her leadership, our government," he said. "I have always got along well with her. Christy is a friend of mine, and I think she took on a significant challenge, and I think she's doing a good job."

Lekstrom's statement said: "I have had the opportunity to serve under two premiers, both of whom I want to thank for their support and commitment to helping build a stronger province for all."

Lekstrom bolted from former premier Gordon Campbell's Liberal government during the debate over the harmonized sales tax. He said he supported the tax, but constituents in his Dawson Creek-area riding told him they could not support the way the Liberals introduced it.

Lekstrom sat as an independent before he was brought back to the Liberals following Clark's election as party leader in February 2011.

"This has been an incredible experience filled with challenges and opportunities and certainly a job that has changed my life in so many positive ways," said Lekstrom's statement.

Coleman said he's made a decision about his future for the same reason as some of his departing colleagues, but instead of leaving for family reasons, he said he's staying.

It's a safe bet Coleman, the energy minister, will play a major role after Clark shuffles her cabinet likely later this week to fill the many holes punched into her team after some of her most reliable ministers announced they won't run again.

Last week, former finance minister Kevin Falcon said he would not run again because he wanted more time with his growing family. Children's minister Mary McNeil noted spending time with her grandchildren played a role in her decision. One-time cabinet minister John Les and affable education minister George Abbott also announced they would not be candidates in May 2013.

Clark's cabinet rebuilding job requires appointing new finance, education, children's and transportation ministers following the retirement announcements.

There's also the possibility that Clark will lessen the current load on Prince George cabinet veteran Shirley Bond, who has been doing extra duty as attorney general and justice minister and acting finance minister since Falcon's announcement.

Current backbencher Moira Stilwell, a former Liberal leadership candidate and cabinet minister in Campbell's government, could find her way back to cabinet.

So could Kootenay East Liberal Bill Bennett, a former energy minister who left the Liberals under Campbell to sit as an independent before he negotiated a truce with Clark.

Former agriculture minister Ben Stewart, dropped from cabinet by Clark last spring, could also rejoin cabinet.

Clark's Liberal team still has veteran ministers Pat Bell, Shirley Bond, Mary Polak and Mike de Jong, who have all said they are running again in 2013.

Last week, Clark told reporters at a news conference following Falcon's departure announcement that she was not considering bringing in a non-elected person to fill a cabinet post.

Coleman said Tuesday the possibility of the NDP forming government made him realize "I've still got the fire in the belly."

"I've still got the reason to be here, and I think I can contribute," said Coleman, who has represented the Langley area for four terms, including stints as solicitor general and forests minister. He is also the government's house leader.

"Grandchildren, they're probably the motivation for me staying because when I started this thing up, I didn't like what it looked like for my kids for the future of British Columbia because of what the New Democrats had done."

As energy minister, Coleman is responsible for guiding the province's energy policy which has been focusing on liquefied natural gas development in northern B.C. He's also presided over the government's attempts to bring more mining developments to the province.

The former Mountie is spearheading the government's exploration of privatizing liquor distribution and has worked to turn hotels in Vancouver's downtown eastside into housing for the homeless.

Coleman said the decisions by Falcon, Abbott, Les and McNeil to not run in 2013 will result in a loss of experience for the Liberals, but their decisions to leave present opportunities for others to step forward and bring new ideas with them.

"It's a good time now to bring in the people who are going to be running in the election so that we can have the renewal and show people the strength of our bench and the strength of the team we have," said Coleman.

Coleman's announcement came about one hour before backbench Liberals Rob Howard of Richmond-Centre and Joan McIntyre of West Vancouver-Sea-To-Sky said they won't be seeking re-election.

There are now 16 members of Clark's government who won't be running in the May 2013 election. That includes former cabinet ministers Barry Penner and Iain Black, who resigned their seats, and John van Dongen who left to sit with the B.C. Conservatives.