05/21/2014 09:46 EDT | Updated 07/21/2014 05:59 EDT

Jim Prentice launches official leadership campaign

Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice officially launched his campaign to become the leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives this morning in downtown Edmonton.

A second event is planned in Calgary later in the day.

Prentice, who filed his nomination papers on Friday, is currently the only official candidate in the race.

Former Alberta cabinet minister Ric McIver intends to run but, as of Monday, was in the midst of collecting signatures.

Ken Hughes had originally planned to join in the leadership race, but withdrew in order to support Prentice’s campaign.

Other potential candidates, including cabinet ministers Doug Horner, Diana McQueen and Jonathan Denis, have announced they will not run.

Nominations will officially close on May 30. The leadership vote will take place in September.

Prentice gaining support

With about half the Tory caucus supporting him, Prentice, who is 57, is considered the candidate to beat.

On May 8, a record 1,800 people turned out for a $500-a-plate  party fundraiser in Calgary – something that was attributed in part to burgeoning interest in a Prentice candidacy.

For six years between 2004 and 2010, Prentice was the member of Parliament for Calgary Centre-North, serving under Prime Minister Stephen Harper in three cabinet portfolios.

He left politics three years ago to take an executive position with CIBC but was persuaded to run for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative Party after Alison Redford quit the job in March over spending scandals and accusations of poor leadership.