battleground alberta 2008: the anti-climax revealed.

As Alberta isn’t exactly set to be anything close to an exiting political battleground in the upcoming federal election, I expect the Alberta-wing of the Conservative Party machinery in this Conservative MP heavy province to be spent a) increasing vote tallies to take advantage of the funding-per-vote finance scheme, b) transferring funds to lesser well-off campaigns in other Provinces and Territories, c) sending weekly bus loads of Calgary Conservatives out to Wascana to campaign against Ralph Goodale.

Other than the more interesting races in Edmonton-Centre and Edmonton-Strathcona (which I will focus on more later), the rest of Edmonton and Alberta looks like a wash for the Conservatives. With Reform-era MP John Williams retiring, former Tory MLA Brent Rathgeber has been nominated as the Conservative candidate in Edmonton-St. Albert and will be facing off against Liberal Sam Sleiman, New Democrat Dave Burkhart, and Green Peter Johnson. Rathgeber served as the MLA for Edmonton-Calder from 2001 until 2004, when he was defeated by New Democrat David Eggen. My only memorable encounter with Rathgeber was at the Legislature Press Gallery Christmas Party in December 2007, during which we had an overly jovial conversation about door knocking during the winter.

In Edmonton-Sherwood Park, Tim Uppal is the Conservative candidate replacing C-484 advocate Ken Epp. Uppal, who nearly defeated former Liberal MP David Kilgour in Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont in the 2004 election, was rumoured to have been convinced to run in Edmonton-Sherwood Park to avoid a nasty nomination battle with MP Mike Lake. Lake is seeking re-election against Liberal Indira Saroya in Kilgour’s former stronghold. Since former candidate Neal Gray stepped aside earlier this year, the NDP are in the processes of renominating a candidate to run against Lake and Saroya (recent Edmonton-Rutherford provincial candidate Michael Butler is seeking the nod).

In Edmonton-East, former NDP MLA Ray Martin will be taking a second run at Conservative MP Peter Goldring. The two men last met in clutches of electoral battle in 2000, when Martin placed third behind Goldring and former Liberal MLA Sue Olsen. This time, Martin will be joining Liberal Jim Jacuta and Green Trey Capnerhurst. The two remaining races in Edmonton are expected to be much less exciting as MPs Rona Ambrose and James Rajotte should have no problem facing their competition in Edmonton-Spruce Grove and Edmonton-Leduc.

Across the province, a number of Conservative incumbents won’t be seeking re-election. Among the new candidates who will more than likely become MPs are Devinder Shory in Calgary-Northeast, Blake Richards in Wild Rose, and Earl Dreeshen in Red Deer.

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