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ménage à trois: jim dinning, ted morton, ed stelmach.

The results of the Alberta PC Party’s internal party selection are a bit surprising. A party divided is what is apparent.

In retrospect, I clearly underestimated how much support Jim Dinning would get with 10-years of planning, 36 MLA’s and the Calgary Mafia supporting him, a new hair-do, a pair of contact lens, and the control of many of the internal party mechanisms. Geez, even Paul Martin could pull it off…

Ted Morton clearly performed a little better than I had expected in a way. I knew his support was solid and committed; I just wasn’t sure how large it was and how close he would be to Jim Dinning. The so-con vote showed up. The ghost of Reform is back.

Months ago I was predicting that Ed Stelmach would make second or third place in this race. And then he fell off the radar. Apparently, he must have been busy selling PC Party membership in rural Alberta. As Larry Johnsrude reports, the Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville poll results showed an Ed Stelmach-2,461 to Jim Dinning-144 split in Stelmach’s riding (detailed riding-by-riding results can be found here). But even with Dave Hancock‘s endorsement last night, Ed Stelmach remains “Ed Who?” for many Albertans. Will Ed Stelmach stay on for the second-ballot? Will he make a deal with Ted Morton or Jim Dinning? Is Ed Stelmach the Rick Orman of the race?

Speaking of Dave Hancock’s endorsement of Ed Stelmach and their Northern Alliance, it should be interesting to see if Mark Norris joins this coalition of the non-Jim-and-Ted Club. It may not be too unlikely to see Lyle Oberg endorse Ted Morton in the meantime. Victor Doerksen will probably park his votes with Morton.

But the question lies, how much support does an endorsement actually create? As this is not a delegated leadership race the members voting in this selection are not stuck in a large convention hall or hotel with a world of peer pressure pushing them around. It should be interesting to see how strong the internal campaign mechanisms of each leadership candidate’s campaign are and how much of this structure will stay alive or transfer over to the endorsee.

In the time between now and the Tories second ballot next week, expect to see each of the last three old-white men standing to be promise-making and selling their $5 memberships at every street corner.

Also, while I was at the Edmonton Forum I asked a member of the PC Party Executive Committee what would happen if no candidate got more than 50% + 1 on the second ballot. She didn’t have an answer. This seems like something that should be planned for…

As much as a political geek I am, I find it very concerning at how much main stream media attention the results of this internal party leadership selection are getting – the same, if not more, than an actual legitimate and franchised General Election. Many media folks and blogger-types seem to be getting these two very very different things confused.

The Alberta PC Party leadership selection is not an exercise in democracy. So don’t pretend like it is.

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