Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Political Elbow

A pair of provincial by-elections have been called for June 12th to replace retirees Ralph Klein and Shirley McClellan. The one in Klein's old riding is crucial, in that it's a huge litmus test to see if a Calgary breakthrough is possible for the Alberta Liberal Party. The only way Alberta will get it's first competitive election since 1993 is if Calgary swings Liberal, so all eyes will be on Calgary Elbow over the next month (no pressure Craig).


Although there are more dinosaurs in this riding than Liberals, I'd be willing to bet the Liberals increase their vote total here from the last election. Part of this is because they've found a well respected local candidate in Tom Dooley. Part of this is because they didn't run a candidate here last time.

Expect the PCs to cruise to an easy win in this one. Their candidate, Jack Hayden, was Ed Stelmach's rural Alberta campaign chair - given that Stelmach snuck in thanks to the rural vote, one figures Jack knows a thing or two about running campaigns.

Calgary Elbow

Ahh...this one will be fun. For 36 years Calgary Elbow has been held by the Conservatives, and Ralph Klein won it by a 51.5% to 36.5% margin over his Liberal challenger last time. But all signs indicate it will be a competitive race between Tory Brian Heninger and Liberal Craig Cheffins.

On the one hand, Ed Stelmach has proven to be ignorant and ambivalent towards Calgary during his short time as Premier. Calgary Herald headlines over the past week have included "Tories express anti-Calgary sentiment", "angry renters storm Tory office", and "latest [Tory] strategy clumsy, brainless". Back before he was hired to work for Stelmach, Tom Olsen described his future boss' leadership win as "just say no to Calgary". In short, everyone in this city thinks Stelmach won the PC leadership because Jim Dinning was "too Calgary" and snubbing Calgary MLAs from Cabinet and being unaware and uninterested in Calgary issues such as rent control hasn't helped this reputation. Since by elections lend themselves to protest votes, this one would appear ripe for the picking.

On the other hand, many Calgarians simply can't bring themselves to vote Liberal and don't seem to understand the distinction between the federal and provincial parties. A lot of voters seem to be under the impression that Alexander Rutherford brought in the NEP, so any Liberal candidate starts with an automatic handicap.

It'll be a close one, but I'll predict Elbow swings Liberal. A win for the Alberta Liberal Party here would certainly be a big momentum builder for them heading into the next provincial election. But, like I said above - no pressure Craig.

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  • I certainly hope you're right!

    By Blogger Brandon E. Beasley, at 1:40 a.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:35 a.m.  

  • Go Liberals Go!!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:36 a.m.  

  • I'm thinking that if the Liberals don't win Ralph's old constituency, the party is in a world of hurt. Does one get the sense that the perfect storm of electoral change is gathering on the horizon in Calgary and Edmonton these days. When you have a popular mayor like Bronco basically lambasting the crap out of the Provincial Tories every time you see his cherubic face on television, well, you just can't buy that kind of advertising, now can you? If anything, the Liberals should be out there making themselves known right across the province so they can take advantage of this... unfortunately, Brian Mason seems to get more coverage than Taft.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 6:19 a.m.  

  • I'm surprised you're sandbagging the Alberta Alliance in Drumheller-Stettler. I can easily see an increase in their vote over the Liberals, especially if a decent candidate is fielded. I'm of the opinion that the greatest threat to the Tories is from the right, not the left.

    By Blogger Rob, at 9:08 a.m.  

  • The Alliance will feed off of Tory vote totals, but this isn't really a problem. With someone as pro-rural as Stelmach, rural Alberta is a bit of a lock. I'd expect the Tories to take back Cardston Taber Warner.

    But Craig, again, no pressure - you only have THE bellweather riding for us.

    By Blogger Matthew Naylor, at 9:53 a.m.  

  • If only the Alberta Liberals had ANY kind of leader, the Tory reign might end. What a bad time to be stuck with a dud leader.

    Therefore the biggest threat might be from the right, not the left. Unfortunately, it will take a few elections for them to establish themselves.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:22 a.m.  

  • I have heard Ed Stelmach speak and I have heard Kevin Taft speak.

    Kevin Taft seems, bright, thoughtful, well researched and relates well to his audience. After his prepared speech which covered half a dozen topics of current interest, he fielded questions for most of an hour.

    The comments as people left were very favourable.

    Four weeks later, I attended a session with Ed Stelmach as the guest speaker.

    His delivery was identical to what is posted on Youtube and was on this site.

    The contrast between Stelmach and Taft will be interesting indeed and I don't think the Liberals will suffer for it.

    A win in Calgary Elbow would be very nice but I don't think it is entirely essential for future success.

    It is after all the riding of the former leader.

    A close race would be just as satisfying and would demonstrate progress.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 10:41 a.m.  

  • The Alberta Alliance is a non factor (which is unfortunate since some vote splitting on the right would be a big help here). Paul Hinman has been ineffective as their leader and the party just doesn't seem to be gaining any ground.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:27 a.m.  

  • I agree with pretty well everything you said Dan... except claiming a distinction between federal and provincial parties.

    If that were true, why do you hear ALP MLAs saying things in the legislature like "We know on this side of the house why Stephen Harper is scary"?

    If there really was a distinction between federal and provincial Liberal parties, like there is in BC, things in Alberta could be a lot different next time around.

    By Blogger BR, at 1:21 p.m.  

  • Always am in favour of more competetive democracy, so I agree with your hopes here.

    Hey, have you ever done any kind "The Difference Betwixt the Federal and Albertan Liberal Parties" post? Because I would like to know more about (in almost all the provinces, if anyone else wanted to share...).

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 2:33 p.m.  

  • jason & br; ideaologically, there are certainly a lot of similarities between the provincial and federal libs.

    I was thinking more along the "baggage" lines of things. The parties are completely separate so the sins of Trudeau or the federal Liberals shouldn't really be used to tar the ALP.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:44 p.m.  

  • Don't count on Taber Warner falling back into the hands of the PCs. Stelmach was second choice here. Stelmach cooked his goose in this riding because of his decision, yrs ago, to change the route of the CanMex highway from the east route to the west route, putting lots of farm families out, and also some businesses. They bought all that land, and still not one survey stick has been put in the ground. So far, the CPR has still not given permission to move the tracks. And, who wants several level crossings on a main highway.

    By Blogger maryT, at 4:38 p.m.  

  • Let's hope you are right CG. A change of government is needed in Alberta, in a huge way. If they can break through in Calgary Elbow, then lets pray that it gives people confidence to vote the Provincial Tories out of office in the next election. Taft seems like a good enough leader, but nobody had a chance in Ralph's larger than life shadow. Now with the "Undecider" as Premier, the government is there for the taking. Reminds me of a movie I saw about a year or so back where the main actors were Chretien, Martin, and Harper.

    By Blogger Mercury Rising, at 5:04 p.m.  

  • We want democracy for Alberta.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 10:57 p.m.  

  • I live in Calgary Elbow and I'm undecided as to who to vote for - you actually probably don't want my vote as I have a history of backing a loser.

    I just don't see how the numbers can add up to a Liberal victory. Sure there are people here who are po'd at the Tories, Bronconnier's doing his best to stir the pot and we feel ignored by Stelmach but take a look at the demographics of the riding and the type of people we're talking about here - very white, very affluent and very influential. We're really as conservative (notice the small "c" here) as it gets. I just don't see how Heninger can lose the votes he needs to lose in order for Cheffins to win.

    By Blogger CalgaryMike, at 2:28 p.m.  

  • ... Bronconnier's doing his best to stir the pot ...

    That's because he's running to succeed Taft as Liberal leader once the knives are out after the next Liberal loss. Trouble is, neither Bronco nor Taft has anywhere near the stature of Peter Lougheed or Lawrence Decore.

    I also live in Calgary Elbow, and I'll probably vote for Heninger, though if the Alliance or the Socreds run a decent candidate I could switch. But, with Taft's delusions of grandeur in wanting a leaders' debate with just him and Stelmach, there is no way I could hold my nose enough to vote Liberal (even though they are IMHO running a very decent candidate).

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 8:57 p.m.  

  • Brian in Calgary: you're reasoning is just silly. Stelmach is not in the same league as Decore or Loughedd, nor was Klein.

    You have drank the PC Kool-aid that you should hate Liberals and vote Tory(not because you like PCs but because they are not Liberal).

    You waste your vote voting for Stelmach. He's a dud.

    You are are hurting our province by voting for the Tory clowns. This isn't Cuba or North Korea and the past 20 years of ineptitude is enough.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:52 p.m.  

  • Sean cummings says: "unfortunately, Brian Mason seems to get more coverage than Taft...."

    Maybe you should try something other than the CBC every now and again.

    Calgarymike says: "take a look at the demographics of the riding and the type of people we're talking about here - very white, very affluent and very influential. We're really as conservative (notice the small "c" here) as it gets."

    White and affluent perfectly describes Calgary-Varsity, Calgary-Currie and Calgary-Mountainview. Take a look at their MLAs. Here's a hint: they're not Tories.

    By Blogger Raymaker, at 11:50 a.m.  

  • By Blogger raybanoutlet001, at 9:31 p.m.  

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