The race won't include controversial Calgary MP Rob Anders, who has mused to reporters about taking a run at the top job in the right-of-centre party after failing twice to be nominated as a Conservative candidate in the next federal election.
Wildrose rules stipulate all candidates must have been party members for at least six months before the vote. Anders doesn't meet that requirement, said party president Jeff Callaway.
"We're not going to start breaking rules to suit particular people's agendas. He made his choices when he let his membership lapse."
The party does waive the requirement for people such as journalists who are unable to hold party memberships due to their occupations.
Interim leader Heather Forsyth will carry the flag through the campaign if an election is called before the June date, Callaway said.
"We're actually quite proud that we're more than any one particular individual," he said. "In the event that there is a spring election, we have contingency plans in place for that."
The party will have a full slate of constituency candidates if there is a spring vote, Callaway added. And any candidates for the leadership would be expected to run in the election.
Applications will be handed out starting Monday. The final cutoff for entry is one month before the vote.
The leadership contest became necessary after former leader Danielle Smith led eight Opposition members across the floor to the governing Tories in December in an effort to unite the right.
The move left the Wildrose with five seats compared with 72 for the Tories. Two other Wildrose legislature members had already crossed and another had chosen to sit as an Independent.
Candidates will have to pay a $20,000 non-refundable entry fee.
The vote will be conducted with mail-in ballots or in person at the leadership conference in Calgary. Callaway said the party decided not to experiment with online voting.
"We're sticking with the tried and true and what works."
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