Former deputy prime minister John Manley. (CP file photo)

The race to replace Paul Martin as leader of the Liberal party is already heating up, but John Manley said on Wednesday that he doesn't want the job.

"While I hope to play a role in the renewal, healing and unification of the Liberal party, I have decided for personal reasons that I will not be a leadership candidate," the former deputy prime minister wrote in an opinion piece published in the Globe and Mail on Thursday.

During an election night broadcast on CBC Television, Manley acknowledged that he had been lobbied to seek the party's top job.

He was reacting to Martin's announcement that he would not lead the Liberals into another election, made a few hours after election results confirmed that the Conservatives under Stephen Harper would form a minority government.

At the same time, Manley poked fun at his bland image.

"Some may want a dynamic, charismatic leader. Some others may support me," he told the CBC's Peter Mansbridge.

Manley dropped out of the race to succeed former prime minister Jean Chrétien in 2003, conceding he could not beat Martin. He left politics shortly afterwards to return to practising law and sit on a number of corporate boards.

Frank McKenna is regarded as the early frontrunner to succeed Martin. He resigned his post as ambassador to the United States on Wednesday.

McKenna is expected to inherit much of Martin's political organization.

Some in the party are concerned that the national executive wants to hold a leadership convention as soon as this fall, an early date that would favour McKenna.

Other possible leadership contenders, such as Belinda Stronach, Scott Brison, Martin Cauchon, Ken Dryden and Michael Ignatieff, don't have the same level of organization in place to challenge him for the job.

The national executive has to weigh several factors in choosing a date.

The precarious nature of the Conservative minority government is one.

Another is the fact that the party constitution says a convention can't be held for five months after membership sales are cut off.

The Canadian Press reports party insiders suggest the convention is likely to be held some time between November 2006 and March 2007.