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Premier Ed Stelmach tells reporters Wednesday that leadership candidates must disclose all campaign donations. ((CBC))

The leadership race for the Alberta Progressive Conservative party will run through the summer with voting in September, the party announced Thursday.

"I've spent a lot on the phone over the last week receiving advice and suggestions for an earlier date and advice and sugestions for a later date," said party president Bill Smith.

"At the end of day it's the leader's decision and he's made his decision."

The race will begin officially once Stelmach delivers a letter of his intention to resign, said Smith. Stelmach has confirmed he intends to stay on as party leader until September.

Stelmach told the party executive Wednesday night he will be delivering that letter at the end of the spring session, said Smith.

Candidates to reveal expenses, donations

Members will cast ballots in September. If there is no clear winner on the first ballot, a second ballot two weeks later will run off the top three finishers.

Party officials are working on new financial disclosure rules for the leadership candidates, said Tory president Bill Smith.

The rules will be ready by the beginning of April, said Smith. 

Premier Ed Stelmach promised Wedneday that every candidate will have to reveal the names of their financial backers.

"There is going to be full, open, transparent disclosure on leadership where the money comes - to any leadership candidate - their expenses."

Stelmach silent on donors in 2006

That wasn’t the case four years ago when Stelmach won his leadership bid in 2006.

After running a campaign promising open and transparent government, he was heavily criticized for refusing to name all his financial backers.

"We didn't have any rules as a party," he told reporters.

"What'll happen is they will know what the rules are before the campaign actually starts."

"To me that's important," he said. "We are the governing party and people expect that from us."

The only declared leadership candidate so far, former finance minister Ted Morton, also refused to name his donors after the 2006 race.