United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney won a decisive victory on Thursday, claiming 72 percent of the vote in the Calgary-Lougheed byelection that saw approximately one-third of eligible voters cast a ballot.

Phillip van der Merwe, the NDP’s candidate was a distant second, claiming 17 percent and Liberal leader David Khan was even further back, taking only nine percent of the vote.

During his victory speech, Kenney told the crowd that he will be taking the NDP government to task.

“We sent a message tonight with huge numbers. Stop quadrupling our debt. Stop your policies that have killed hope and jobs for so many Albertans and start putting common sense solutions ahead of your NDP ideology.”

Ahead of the vote, political experts were certain that Kenney was going to win and that feeling continued after the numbers were tallied.

Lori Williams, with Mount Royal University, called the victory no surprise for the veteran politician.

“Given the organization, the number of volunteers that he had that was out, basically in force, every day in the neighbourhood. He probably had a lot of momentum going into this. People in the riding wanted to see the leader of the new party in the Legislature.”

Williams says that Kenney’s focus will now likely be bringing the UCP together and building and preparing policies to bring forward and show Albertans what they are all about.

The NDP says they are looking forward to debating Kenney in the Legislature when the Spring Sitting commences in February 2018.

(With files from Shaun Frenette)