Liberals have chosen lawyer Kent Hehr as their candidate in the riding of Calgary-Buffalo for the next provincial election.

Hehr defeated gay rights activist Keith Purdy for the nod from the Alberta Liberal Party Monday night.

It was the first contested nomination the Liberals have had in the city since 1998, said the party's executive director Kieran Leblanc. It didn't hurt that the riding was Calgary-Buffalo, which the Liberals had held for 15 years until the 2001 election.

"I think that's partly what it is, but we're seeing really high quality candidates stepping forward around Calgary and around the province, so I think it's part of the momentum that is building in our party."

Conservative cabinet minister Harvey Cenaiko currently holds the riding.

His victory ended 15 years of Liberal dominance, first by Sheldon Chumir and then Gary Dickson.