Ken Hughes is abandoning his bid for the leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party, instead throwing his support behind former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice.

Hughes, 60, made the announcement in a written release on Monday morning, saying although he was prepared to mount a strong campaign to lead the Tories, he has been reflecting on what is best for the province.

 “After listening to many Albertans, it became clear there is a growing consensus that Jim Prentice is the leader Alberta needs now,” said Hughes, who resigned as municipal affairs minister last month to campaign for the party’s top post.

Sources close to Prentice have confirmed he is putting together a team for the leadership race to replace Alison Redford, but the vice-chairman of CIBC has not yet formally launched a campaign.

Ric McIver stepped down as infrastructure minister last week and announced he is seeking the PC leadership. 

Hughes said he spoke with McIver today and supports his decision to stay in the race.

Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis put an end to speculation he would seek the leadership on Sunday, saying he will be supporting Prentice.​