The rookie legislature member representing Calgary-West becomes the first candidate in the race to replace former premier Alison Redford as leader of the Alberta Tories.
Hughes had been hinting publicly for days that he would run.
Earlier this week, he stepped down as municipal affairs minister and said he would be touring the province to talk about leadership issues. He even set up a leadership website.
He kicked off that tour Friday morning with the official announcement in the southern village of Longview. Later, in Calgary, he told reporters he has the support of two other legislature members and expects there will be more backing him soon.
He said he plans to run a clean campaign that's not about assassinating the character of the former premier. Redford resigned from the job last month after two of her caucus members left to sit as Independents and others threatened to follow. She had been heavily criticized for her harsh leadership style and lavish spending.
Hughes said if selected as leader of the party, he'll set expectations and dish out appropriate consequences for those who don't "pay attention to details."
He said it's all about respect.
"Do you have a respectful relationship with all members of caucus such that you can actually lead them and that they will work with you as part of a team to provide good leadership for Alberta?" he asked. "I believe I have that respectful relationship because of the way I conduct business.
"One has most success by being respectful of everybody and I respect anybody who's prepared to stand up and serve in public life. It's a tough life."
The party is to vote on a new leader in September.
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