**UPDATE (October 11, 2006) – Check out the entire list of MLA endorsements for the Alberta PC leadership race.**
As a follow up from my post “would-be wanna-be” from last June, here is an updated list of Alberta’s PC leadership candidates with the usual remarks and side comments. I perfectly admit that it’s a little early to predict much of what I do, but that’s what blogs are for…
Jim Dinning – (AKA Paul Martin). Alberta’s Treasurer and author of the dark day budgets from 1992 to 1997, Dinning has been bidding his time in the dark depths of corporate Calgary since leaving politics in 1997. He wants the job bad, but since launching his website a year ago, he hasn’t come up with any sort of substantive policy proposal or position, keeping himself on the extremely underwhelming side of the ideas spectrum. He’s the front-runner in this race, but only because he’s been running for PC leader for the past ten years. Interestingly, Dinning was the only Tory MLA to endorse Nancy Betkowski in the first round of the 1992 PC leadership race.
Chances: He’s the only candidate I can see winning on the first ballot. If it moves to a second ballot, look for strong “anybody-but-Dinning” opposition.
Backers: Brent Shervey, Rod Love, Walter Paszkowski, Tom Snell, Gord Rosko, Tim Boston, etc.
Dave Hancock, MLA Edmonton Whitemud – Now a Tory backbencher, Hancock was Alberta’s Advanced Education Minister until he resigned earlier this year to focus his energy of the Alberta PC leadership race. His Red Tory Edmonton roots place him in a vulnerable position within the race. Look for Hancock to drop off the first ballot and throw his support behind another candidate – potentially crowning him the “kingmaker.”
Ted Morton, MLA Foothills-Rockyview – Morton is the darkhorse of this leadership race. Not terribly charismatic, he benefits the most from Preston Manning’s decision to stay out the race. Expect him to draw out the “hard-line right-wing, old white guy from Gophercrotch, Alberta with an unregistered semi-automatic rifle who usually: a) votes Social Credit Party, b) votes Christian Heritage Party, c) votes Alberta Alliance, d) votes Alberta Separation Party, e) doesn’t believe in voting because of the NEP.
Chances: Not as slim as people think.
Backers: The hard-line right-wing, old white guy from Gophercrotch, Alberta with an unregistered semi-automatic rifle who usually: a) votes Social Credit Party, b) votes Christian Heritage Party, c) votes Alberta Alliance, d) votes Alberta Separation Party, e) doesn’t believe in voting because of the NEP.
Mark Norris – The only Minister to be defeated in the 2001 election, Mark Norris has surprised many with his impressive list of committed campaign contributors. Having set up his Grassroots Leadership Group consulting firm as a front for his leadership campaign, Norris surprised everyone when he came out in favour of Alberta’s separation from Canada. Norris is close with Klein and was his Edmonton Campaign Chairman in the 1992 PC leadership race.
Chances: Seeing as how he has no seat and was the only Minister to be defeated in the last election, I don’t see how Norris can claim to pose any threat to the Tory throne. Slim to none.
Backers: Tim Shipton, Doug Horner, Mike Nickel, etc…
Lyle Oberg, MLA Strathmore-Brooks – Now an Independent MLA, Oberg was unceremoniously sacked from the Tory Caucus in April after threatening to expose the skeletons in Ralph Klein’s closet. Since then, this overly arrogant MLA has found a new office in the former Legislature smoking room and now walks alone to question period (even Paul Hinman doesn’t walks alone to question period…).
Chances: Slim. He’s running to lead a caucus that kicked him out of their ranks.
Supporters: In flux. Previous to him being ejected from the Tory caucus, his supporters included former Tory MLA’s Jon Havelock, Lorne Taylor, Brent Rathegeber, and former Liberal MLA Peter Sekulic.
Ed Stelmach, MLA Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville – Former Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, Stelmach resigned from cabinet earlier this year in order to dedicate more time to running for PC leader. Quiet, Stelmach style blends easily into the background of the Alberta political scene, but may surprise people when the leadership selection is held. Stelmach is setting himself up as a alternative candidate for the “anybody-but-Dinning” front. He has rural roots and isn’t as offensive on the ideological front as Morton. Look for him to place strong.
Chances: He will be easy to underestimate, but look him to place a strong second place finish on the first ballot.
Backers: Ken Kowalski, John Baldry, etc.