What’s an election without a couple of predictions? And to avoid any of that “I said that would happen!”/”No you didn’t!” stuff I thought I’d write down a few of mine. (And instead revel in the multiple “Boy, was that guy way off!” that will no doubt come my way.) So here are my thoughts as we head into the final hour of the Alberta provincial election every news outlet has already deemed “historic”.
Let’s start with the questions everyone will ask:
- Who will win? My bet is the Wildrose Party.
- Majority or minority? Minority.
- Seat breakdown? Your guess is probably as good as mine, but I’ll go:
- Wildrose: 40 (currently 4)
- Progressive Conservative: 38 (currently 66)
- Liberal: 5 (currently 8 ) – Some of those retiring seats won’t be replaced, many will go PC.
- NDP: 3 (currently 2) – Brian and Rachel get a new co-worker. Who? Could be a few tight races in Edmonton, but I’ll guess David Eggen squeaks this one out finally.
- Alberta Party: 1 (currently 1 who’s retiring) – I’ve got high hopes for Hinton mayor and party leader Glenn Taylor, so I’m willing to take a flyer on him.
- Yes, that shows either the Liberals OR the NDP holding the balance of power. I dream of a raucous session as you can see.
- Voter turnout? 65% (2008 was 40%, an all time low).
Now more fun predictions:
- Who ever wins my riding of Calgary-Klein will form the government.
- Win or lose Danielle Smith will take a shot at the PCs and their 41 years in government saying something like “FINALLY!” or “I’m disappointed we weren’t able to end it… yet.”
- Alison Redford will be gracious, all the while looking like she’d like to stick the knife in the Wildrose and twist it. Win or lose.
- Ron Leech doesn’t get the chance to speak for anyone other than himself.
- Allan Hunsperger won’t “suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire”, AKA the Legislature, as voters accept he was born this way. But it will be close.
- Tomorrow there will be a government. (A stretch, but after this campaign you’d be forgiven if you thought the opposite.)
- It will take a looooonnnnnng time before final results are in and Twitter will be lit up with whiners wanting to go to bed.
- Speaking of Twitter: someone will make a dumb mistake and click on one of the dozens of spam #abvote tweets that looks like it’s coming from a sexy lady who happens to tweet every 18 seconds.
There’s a couple of my predictions. I’ll add more if I think of them, but please add yours in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!
I’m not a big fan of party politics. I could care less which party is in charge. I care more about who the people in government are and what kinds of decisions they make. [Note: This last sentence was cut from the printed version, but I thought it was important so I added it back in for my blog.]
With three leadership races going on at the provincial level there is an immense possibility for new leadership, some names are even being touted as leader for more than one party.
To that end I posted a poll on my blog to find out which individuals would make Albertans proud to have as premier; regardless of party affiliation. I invited readers to pick one of the recently rumoured candidates or to pick several — after all I doubt there is just one and one alone we’d be happy with and I suspect there might be one in more than one party.
I would never tout the results of my unscientific poll as looking anything like the possible outcome of an election, but there were some interesting outcomes which could indicate some emerging trends and give some food for thought.
First, the parties with established leaders in Brian Mason and Danielle Smith didn’t outpace as many of the potential candidates of other parties as I thought they would. This should indicate to the Progressive Conservatives and Alberta Party that at this point their eventual leaders are not as far behind in public consciousness as one might think.
The news is not as good for the Liberal party however. Of the rumoured candidates for its leadership, none of them made much of a blip. Kent Hehr did okay. It’s clear he would be the only current Liberal with a chance of righting their ship. Of course rumours also say he’s being wooed by the Alberta Party and the poll tells me he’d probably have more success there.
My informal poll also shows that the two front runners for the Progressive Conservative leadership are Doug Griffiths and Alison Redford. Their support is solid enough I would be shocked if either don’t run.
The numbers also illustrate many PC hopefuls such as Doug Horner and Jim Dinning would run in the middle of the pack and not make much of an impact in a general election. (Don’t forget this is what they said about Ed Stelmach too though.) However the vote for rumoured candidates Gene Zwozdesky, Gary Mar, Jonathan Denis and Ken Hughes was so abysmal I’m confident in saying unless they have a big game changer in their playbook that no one else has they should save themselves the time and embarrassment.
The big surprise in the poll however was a name I had heard rumoured six months ago but not lately, which I included on a whim. Chima Nkemdirim, someone I thought would have polled near the bottom instead was right at the top. Nkemdirim is Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s chief of staff. If he were to run, I’m confident he’d make a big splash with broad based support from all areas of the political spectrum.
If a day is an eternity in politics then the past week at the Alberta legislature requires a quantum physics degree to wrap your head around.
First Dave Taylor gives the Alberta Party their first MLA, then the premier announces he’ll step down, then the finance minister quits 24 hours later, and finally this week the leader of the opposition does the same.
I may not have that quantum physics degree — and I doubt most of you do either — but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to make sense of all of this and figure out what might happen this summer.
First, we now find ourselves with three of the five parties with sitting MLAs missing a leader. This is unprecedented uncertainty that opens up a lot of possibilities for a lot of people.
Alberta Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman has indicated she is being wooed to run for the leadership of both the Liberals and the Alberta Party. Rural MLA Doug Griffiths is receiving a push to run for the Progressive Conservatives as well as the Alberta Party too.
I’m confident they are not the only ones being pulled in two directions at the same time. With this kind of potential major player shakeup, my guess is the craziest things possible at the legislature haven’t even happened yet.
So what is the craziest thing that could happen?
Ted Morton to this point is the only person to declare he is running for the leadership of the PCs. In 2006 when he ran he had the support of hundreds of people who are now members of the Wildrose Alliance — a group who know opportunity when it knocks.
It is not outside the realm of possibility that Wildrose members could join the PC party again to “hedge their bets” by making sure Morton becomes leader. This is something that makes a lot of sense for them to do.
This would be the best possible news to Liberal, NDP and Alberta Party supporters. With Morton as leader, half the PC party membership would be without an ideological home — after all, they didn’t vote for him the first time and they didn’t join the Wildrose when were asked to.
Without a home supporters would no doubt look to these parties (especially the more centrist Alberta Party) as their new banner.
Just like the Wildrose members joining the PC party, we could see other opposition party members join as well to also vote for Morton in the leadership race and thus destroy the 40-year-old party from within.
Without a strong Progressive Conservative party running in the next election you would be guaranteed to see some new blood and major change happening. Which as ever party knows, is exactly what the majority of voters are crying out for.
If this scenario ends up coming true, you read it here first. If it doesn’t, well I did say it was “crazy.” But as the past week has shown, Alberta politics does crazy very well.
Calgary original: http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/762974–wrap-your-head-around-this-equation
Edmonton original: http://www.metronews.ca/edmonton/local/article/762974–wrap-your-head-around-this-equation
It looks like Stelmach made the decision for us.
There’s no need for an election to make it happen. There will be a new premier by next year. And in the wake of Premier Stelmach’s resignation the long list of potential replacements is starting to pile up.
Ted Morton has to be the front-runner at this point — if not for the caucus budget brouhaha we’ve been reading about, then at least for the number of Wildrose Alliance members who could very well purchase a PC Party membership to install him as the next premier. (Consider this a hedging-your-bets play by more conservative-minded politicos.)
But behind the obvious choice of Morton, the pack starts getting very confusing. The other contenders may include Dave Hancock and Doug Horner, as well as “outsiders” Jim Dinning and Jim Prentice.
But it is 2011 now. The upcoming election campaign will be unlike any the Progressive Conservatives have faced in their 40-year run. It will take a different kind of leader to pull off another win over the upstart Wildrose Alliance and Alberta Party.
It’s going to be someone like Lindsay Blackett, Jonathan Denis, Thomas Lukaszuk, Alison Redford and their like who will have to lead the party forward. But sadly, the majority in this group have ended up in their seat by playing the “old” game well and don’t really represent a “new,” less partisan way forward.
The only man I can see in a position to be the right person at the right time is a little-known MLA from Hardisty: Doug Griffiths.
To begin with, he is Alberta. He fits in everywhere and everyone has an immense amount of respect for the man — north, south; rural, urban; conservative, liberal; the energy sector, farmers. He gets Alberta as a whole, and is the only person, regardless of party, who bridges all these traditional opposites.
Griffiths has tough decisions to make, too. The PCs have barely embraced him, let alone recognized him as the golden boy who could lead them into the next century by transcending the type of election every other party is going to run. Sources tell me that at this point, he’s just as likely to not run in 2012 and be closer to his young family, who will no doubt show him more appreciation.
The Alberta Party, which is entering into a leadership race of its own, sees Griffiths’s value.
Before Stelmach’s announcement, Griffiths was no doubt being pursued to run in the Alberta Party contest for the reasons I list and more.
I don’t want to put too fine a point on it, but the future of Alberta’s government could hinge on Griffiths’s decision. If he were to run, I think he would have a very good chance as a dark-horse candidate to put aside all the PC baggage others will inadvertently carry and win.
Because during leadership conventions the best candidate to lead the party into an election isn’t always the one who comes out on top (Stelmach?), I should stop short of saying Griffiths will be our next premier. But he would offer the Progressive Conservatives, and Albertans in general, a great choice.
Calgary Original: “Griffiths right man at right time?” http://www.metronews.ca/calgary/local/article/756489–dark-horse-griffiths-the-man-to-lead-tories
Edmonton Original: “Dark-horse Griffiths the man to lead Tories” http://www.metronews.ca/edmonton/local/article/756489–dark-horse-griffiths-the-man-to-lead-tories
While the timing of today’s announcement by Premier Ed Stelmach may be a surprise, his resignation itself should not be. For months there have been grumblings about how the Progressive Conservative party will handle the next election.
The Wildrose Party has positioned itself as an heir apparent making room for all Alberta conservatives. Meanwhile disenfranchised progressives – mainly, but not exclusively PC members – have been toying with what the Alberta Party could be for them. In short, the party that’s been in power for 40 years was being torn in two with only the most ardent supporters who have fought tooth and nail to get where they were inside the party remaining loyal.
Observers and every PC insider knew something had to give. Polls, predictions and even gut feelings all were showing that with Stelmach leading the party into an election they were going to take a beating on all fronts. My prediction was a minority PC government being the outcome. To many, this was a best case scenario.
PC members aren’t stupid however. They could see the future coming too. With so much outsider anger (and even insider for that matter) directed at Stelmach’s seeming inability to gain enough traction with Albertans his fate was sealed. It was just a question whether he stepped aside before or after the next election. Obviously he’d prefer to wait to do it on his own terms, but as things got more and more dim for his party’s future, more and more of his own caucus mates began pondering how to speed things up to save the entire party. And their own seats.
Given all this there was a small movement afoot within caucus to push Stelmach out. However things hadn’t gotten dire enough for it to be a full blown organized coup yet. But if things did get worse, it would be. And for the internal politics of the party to blow up so close to an election would have all but handed the premier’s seat to Danielle Smith. Stelmach, a 25 year veteran, must have seen this too. And so he decided to do what was best for him and his entire party. Today he swallowed his pride and jumped on the grenade.
The table is clear now. The future is whatever the PCs make of it. The Stelmach baggage is gone and there is still enough time for a new leader to set a new tone to rival the other parties and win voter support. The party has had its biggest burden lifted. They still have lots of baggage, but it’s now at least more similar in size to that of it’s competitors.
Next in part 2: what the resignation means for opposition parties.