Over the course of the past 28 days, I’ve had many Tories tell me that they expect their party to gain a large number of seats in Edmonton in order to offset expected gains they expect Kevin Taft‘s Alberta Liberals to make in Calgary. The main argument from my Tory friends seems to be:
1) Because Ed Stelmach from Vegreville, Edmontonians will vote Conservative.
2) Because his name is “Ed,” Edmontonians will vote vote Conservative.
3) Because Ed Stelmach isn’t popular in Calgary, Edmontonians will vote Conservative.
I really shouldn’t have to explain why these are pretty weak arguments. Though I think that my Tory friends sounded a bit optimistic, I have no reason to believe that Edmonton is any less competitive than it has been in past elections – the capital city has had a competitive political environment on the provincial level since 1986 (with the exception of 1993).
Currently, the Alberta Liberals hold a plurality of Edmonton’s seats and though I can’t see them being at risk of losing much ground in Edmonton there are some obvious competitive races between the Liberals and Tories that could go to either party. My list of competitive races between the Liberals and Tories includes Edmonton-Castle Downs, Edmonton-Decore, Edmonton-Ellerslie, Edmonton-Manning, Edmonton-Meadowlark, Edmonton-Mill Creek, Edmonton-Whitemud. In the Edmonton area, St. Albert, Sherwood Park, and Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert also look like they could be in play tomorrow night.
Edmonton is also the only place in Alberta where the New Democrats could be considered electorally relevant. Look for them to concentrate their energies on trying to hold on to their current four seats. Though I tend to believe that Edmonton-Calder, Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, and Edmonton-Strathcona will stay New Democrat this go around, I believe that Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview is in play with both Alberta Liberal Dawit Isaac and Tory Tony Vandermeer running strong campaigns against Ray Martin. The New Democrats have pockets of support in other Edmonton constituencies where they could play the roll of spoiler in tight races between the Alberta Liberals and Tories, but I have a hard time seeing them build on the four seats they won in 2004.