The speculation has ended and the race is on.
Albertans will be going to the polls on Apr. 16 it was announced this morning by Premier Rachel Notley at the National Music Centre in Calgary.
Currently, the newly-created Airdrie-Cochrane riding has three candidates who are mobilizing their teams for the extremely demanding 28 days of campaigning ahead.
Declared so far are the NDP's Steve Durrell, UCP Peter Guthrie and Matthew Morrisey of the recently formed Freedom Conservative Party.
Within minutes of the announcement, the team of Cochrane-Airdrie candidate Peter Guthrie was mobilized for a campaign some of their team had anticipated would begin today. Roadside election signs are starting to dot the landscape of the constituency at this writing.
While mounting a sign by the Totem Building on Hwy. 1A, Roy Genung and Darrel MacKinnon were receiving honks and waves of approval as word spread of the election call.
Guthrie had his wish come true from his Mar. 16 breakfast rally and plans to stay on a message he has been sending since seeking the UCP nomination.
"The message is about jobs, economy, pipelines, bureaucracy and red tape and spending," said Guthrie this morning. "This is what we continue to hear over and over. The message from the current government will be one using distracting tactics to lure people away from that discussion. So we're going to stick to the economic reasons of why we need a government change."
He's not interested in mudslinging and says that's not the type of campaign people want to see.
"We hear from people continually that they don't want us to get into that kind of solicitous talk. For the media generally, solicitousness is what sells but for us, we just need to stick to what people are telling us what they want us to do and that's what we're going to do."
He's been doing a lot of doorknocking, particularly since January and there's a lot more of it ahead.
"There is so much territory to cover between Airdrie, Bearspaw and here in Cochrane so you need to be out there early and we have been. We'll just continue hitting the doors and trying to get our message across."
NDP candidate Durrell is wrapping up his work duties this morning before slipping his campaign into high gear. He and his team, though, have been heavily doorknocking in preparation for the writ to be dropped. He's fired up and ready to go.
"I'm excited that we are underway," says Durrell. "We've had a great time at the doors talking to people and hearing about how important protecting health care and education is as well as infrastructure projects like the 1A/22 interchange."
"I'm running for Rachel Notley because she is the only one who will protect those services and projects."
Matthew Morrisey is stepping up his campaign and is out doorknocking tonight. He expects to be hitting doors in Cochrane tomorrow night.
The Freedom Conservative Party is lead by former UCP MLA Derek Fildebrandt that appears to have 10 candidates nominated so far.
In the Banff-Kananaskis constituency that borders on Cochrane to the west and includes Bragg Creek, NDP incumbent Cam Westhead is being challenged by the UCP's Miranda Rosin and Brenda Stanton of the Alberta Party.