Alberta Politics

15 races to watch in alberta’s 2012 election.

In the lead up to the Alberta’s 2012 election, I have identified fifteen constituencies across the province that could produce interesting contests and results when the election is called.

15 races to watch in Alberta's 2012 election.
15 races to watch in Alberta's 2012 election.

1) Highwood
The Wildrose Party has staked their future in the success of leader Danielle Smith and I expect that party will pull out all the stops to ensure she is elected. The PCs have nominated newspaper editor John Barlow to replace retiring PC MLA George Groeneveld.

2) Edmonton-Meadowlark
This area has deep Liberal roots, having first elected MLA Grant Mitchell in 1986, but since 2001 it has become a swing-riding electing both Liberals and PCs. Currently held by former PC MLA and now Liberal Party leader Raj Sherman, the next vote will be a test of his personal popularity as he runs under his new party’s banner. He will face former PC MLA Bob Maskell, who served from 2001 until 2004.

3) Edmonton-Calder
Voters in this constituency are notorious swing-voters. No incumbent has been re-elected here since 1997. Current PC MLA Doug Elniski made a last minute announcement that he would not seek re-election, leaving former school trustee and newly nominated candidate Bev Esslinger not a lot of time to catch up. Former MLA David Eggen has been campaigning in Calder for the past three years and is expected to launch a well-organized campaign. Wildrose candidate Rich Neumann may play kingmaker if he is able to attract enough past PC voters.

4) Calgary-Glenmore
In 2009, outgoing Wildrose leader Paul Hinman narrowly won a hotly contested by-election that was seen as a referendum on then-Premier Ed Stelmach‘s popularity in Calgary (which was low). With new Premier Alison Redford representing the neighboring constituency, PC candidate Linda Johnson may receive a warmer reception at the doors. Throw into the mix former Mount Royal College instructor Craig Cheffins, who served as the Liberal MLA for Calgary-Elbow from 2007 to 2008, and the outcome of this race could be difficult to predict.

5) Edmonton-Glenora
Represented by both PC and Liberal MLAs over the past twenty years, this constituency could be a key battleground for five opposition parties in the next election. Former Liberal MLA Bruce Miller is challenging PC cabinet minister Heather Klimchuk, who unseated him by 136 votes in 2008. Rev. Miller is not the only challenger in this election. The Alberta Party is pinning their hopes on former school trustee Sue Huff, the NDP have nominated former MLA and leader Ray Martin, and the Wildrose have chosen past Mayoral candidate Don Koziak.

6) Calgary-Varsity
With the retirement of popular two-term Liberal MLA Harry Chase, the Liberals have nominated former carpenters’ union official Bruce Payne, who ran for that party’s leadership in 2011. The PCs have chosen former Nexen vice-president Donna Kennedy-Glans. The results of this race will be a critical indicator of whether the Liberals can hold on to, and build on, important gains made in Calgary during the past two elections.

7) Chestermere-Rockyview
Energy Minister Ted Morton will face off against former Global Calgary news anchor and Wildrose candidate Bruce McAllister. The Wildrose attacked Minister Morton’s credentials as a “fiscal mallard” while he was Finance Minister and by nominating Mr. McAllister they are showing that they will not give him a pass in the next election.

8 ) Airdrie
When first-term PC MLA Rob Anderson joined the Wildrose in 2010, he automatically became a target of his former party, who have nominated Alderman Kelly Hegg as their candidate. The Airdrie area has typically voted for the PCs, but voters in this region have been known to elect opposition candidates in the past (Western Canadian Concept MLA Gordon Kesler was elected in 1982 and Liberal MLA Don MacDonald was elected in 1992).

9) Cardston-Taber-Warner
After being unseated by Wildorse MLA Mr. Hinman in 2004, PC MLA Broyce Jacobs won a narrow victory in 2008. Fast forward to 2012, Mr. Jacobs has lost his party’s nomination to Pat Shimbashi and the Wildrose has nominated Sterling Deputy Mayor Gary Bikman. If the Wildrose are to pick up seats in the election, this will likely be one.

10) Edmonton-Rutherford
In a rematch of the closest race of the 2008 election, PC MLA Fred Horne will face former Liberal MLA Rick Miller. While 2008 a two-way contest, the 2012 contest is more interesting with the presence of community organizer and Alberta Party candidate Michael Walters and Wildrose candidate Kyle McLeod.

11) Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo
After winning four elections as this constituency’s PC candidate, late-blooming Wildrose MLA Guy Boutilier will face Wood Buffalo deputy mayor Mike Allen in the upcoming vote. After decades as a municipal and provincial politician, this election may be more a test of Mr. Boutilier’s personal support than that of his new party.

12) Edmonton-Gold Bar
A Liberal Party stronghold since 1986, the retirement of MLA Hugh MacDonald and the redistribution of electoral boundaries south encompassing Tory-voting neighbourhoods may give second-time PC candidate David Dorward a boost. Liberal candidate Josipa Petrunic is a well-spoken and passionate partisan who hopes to hold the constituency for her party. The NDP have nominated Marlin Schmidt and hope to capitalize on local support for NDP MP Linda Duncan.

13) Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview
A close contest in 2008 saw former PC MLA Tony Vandermeer defeat NDP MLA Ray Martin. In 2012, Mr. Vandermeer will face a strong challenge from NDP candidate Deron Bilous.

14) Lethbridge-West
After twenty years of close races, voters in this constituency have proven themselves to be deeply divided between the PCs and Liberals. This election, first-term PC MLA Greg Weadick and second-time Liberal candidate Bal Boora will be joined by NDP candidate Shannon Phillips, who has launched a spirited campaign, and Wildrose candidate Kevin Kinahan. Even if Mr. Weadick is re-elected, the real story may be who places second in this politically moderate southern Alberta constituency.

15) Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock
After more than three decades in the Assembly, the departure of PC MLA Ken Kowalski has created a large void to fill in this constituency north of Edmonton. The PCs have nominated Westlock County Councillor Maureen Kubinec, who will face off against her main opponent Wildrose candidate Link Byfield. Mr. Byfield has been campaigning for more than a year and could make gains if he is able to tap into the base of social conservative voters in this constituency.

33 replies on “15 races to watch in alberta’s 2012 election.”

Great analysis, Dave. I would have added Lethbridge East as it will be fascinating to see PC Bridget Pastoor take on Liberal Rob Miyashiro so soon after Ms. Pastoor crossed the floor.

Thanks for doing this, as always!

Have you given consideration to St Albert – it is a flip flop riding. Ken from the PC’s has stepped down. Could be a battle between the PC and WR this time.

Not going to weigh in on your analyses, Dave. Just wanted to pint out (it’s my sworn duty as a member of the Board of Governors) that it is now Mount Royal UNIVERSITY. And a great place to get a high-qulaity, student-focused education!

I’m biased, but I’m interested to see how much damage James Ford can do as an independent in Sherwood Park. His first federal attempt nearly denied Tim Uppal a seat in Parliament. His second federal attempt was dismal. This is his first provincial attempt, up against a very well-known PC and a reasonably well-known WR. The PC is a former mayor, the WR a former newspaper columnist, and Ford, apart from being that guy who runs as an independent in Sherwood Park, publishes a free coffee shop pamphlet called the “Sherwood Park Independent.”


Given the rise in federal NDP vote throughout the Rutherford part of Edmonton-Leduc, perhaps at least mentioning the name of the Edmonton-Rutherford Alberta NDP candidate, Melanie Samaroden, would be in order.

Yeah, I was also going to mention Edmonton-Manning (as Lou did), where the NDP has been relatively strong in the recent past and is running a sitting school board trustee. Although I think your choices are all good ones too, Dave. 😉

Airdrie as it sits is completely different from the last election. Olds Didsbury red necks voted Kessler as a protest and so was the Liberal in a bielection when Connie Osterman resigned more than 20 years ago. They really have nothing to do with the Current Airdrie makeup. There is a lot of distaste for a floor crosser and people get tired of constant negativity so PCs could be back in Airdrie.

Agree with the previous comment about Airdrie. The general public don’t see what goes on in Question Period, if they did I suspect Anderson would be ousted.
One thing for sure Drayton Valley/Devon is going to be a cake walk for the Honorable Diana McQueen. Her WR opponent is not even close to being MLA material !! My bet is that constituency has one of the largest landslides in rural Alberta.

Very interesting list, though I would argue a little Edmonton-centric, in that Wildrose will be presenting significant challenges to PC seats all over Calgary. In Calgary-Varsity, you might also mention Donna Kennedy-Glans’ repeated forays into the federal Conservative scene, for which she has gained few friends and many enemies.

For the Edmonton-Gold Bar race, Linda Carlson is the Wildrose candidate, incredibly smart and hardworking and worthy of a mention for this entry, much like Rich Neumann in Calder.

Thank you.

Thanks for the comments. I had a fun time writing this list, and because it is only 15 races to watch, I obviously missed some.

If I had to add a few more races to this list, constituencies like Edmonton-Manning, Sundre-Rocky Mountain House-Rimbey, Little Bow, Strathmore-Brooks, and Lethbridge-East would come to mind. Edmonton-Riverview could certainly present some interesting results, because of Kevin Taft’s retirement.

Gordon Kessler was in Old-Didsbury which was north of Airdrie.

At that era in 1982 the electoral district covering Airdrie was Three Hills represented by PC MLA Connie Osterman

I attended John Carpay’s meeting tonight (Calgary Lougheed). About 20 people plus a few workers and the new WR Candidate in Calgary Shaw (very SW corner of Calgary and bordering Lougheed). John strikes me as a very credible candidate and would be a breath of fresh air in the leg. His campaign office will open next week and his web site is up and running. If there is a mood for change, Rodney (PC) will be in tough. Estimates put Rodney’s severance package at about $270K – not bad for doing 8 years of photo ops while handing out recreation cheques. If change is going to happen, it will be by one constituency at a time.

Unfortunatley, I think Lethbridge East is pretty safe for Pasteur – which is sad. For citizens to have accepted the charade of “I love the PC’s, I hate the PC’s, I love the PC’s again” is laughable.. but don’t bet on Miyashiro to unseat her. Personally, I’ll be parking my vote with the Wild Rose – the candidate is green, but honest – and I think it’s time that our fiscal house got in order before it’s too late.

In Calgary I am most intrigued by:

Southeast — Can the Wildrose capitalise on a new riding that is demographically perfect for them, with a hard-working candidate?

Fish Creek and Glenmore — Can the Wildrose hang onto their two seats, neither of which are in their demographic sweet spots, both of which have some decent candidates opposing them? How much will incumbency matter here?

Currie — Can the Alberta Party hang on to Dave Taylor’s seat? This is a big priority for the AP.

West — Will the nomination shenanigans and other factors (including the Wildrose candidate’s huge amounts of time and money spent here) result in a Wildrose victory?

Varsity — For the same reasons Dave mentions.

Honourable mentions: Will the Liberals keep both Mountain View and Buffalo? It seems plausible, but you never know. And they are going to need to in order to avoid complete collapse.

I am watching Edmonton McClung with great interest. It is a swing riding, liberal to PC to Liberal to PC (the invisible David Xiao). There is an Alberta Party candidate working the doors. He is the well known president of the Edmonton Arts Council, John Hudson.
We are hearing very good things about him.

The fact the PCs are running Bob Maskell (appointed without a nominating meeting) in Edmonton-Meadowlark actually indicates that they are ceding the riding to Raj Sherman.

Perhaps due to his previous good work in the constituency, Bob Maskell is actually ahead of Raj in a recent poll done by the NDP.

I agree with Dave in that in should be interesting race to watch.

By the way(@MT), Bob was acclaimed. There was no other nominee, hence no necessity of a nomination meeting.

Dave: Your analysis of Edmonton-Meadowlark seems to underestimate the chances of WR candidate Rick Newcombe. Raj has crossed the floor so his liberal credentials are in doubt and traditionally this riding has a lot of small c conservatives who may not be totally enthralled with the PC deficit path. Newcombe is articulate and organized so I think you may have overestimated the PC loyalty in this neck of the woods.

Dave: Your analysis of Edmonton-Meadowlark seems to underestimate the chances of WR candidate Rick Newcombe. Raj has crossed the floor so his liberal credentials are in doubt and traditionally this riding has a lot of small c conservatives who may not be totally enthralled with the PC deficit path. Newcombe is articulate and organized so I think you may have overestimated the PC loyalty in this neck of the woods.

In Edm Gold Bar, it will be a four-horse race PC-WRA-Lib-NDP, yet you didn’t mention the Wildrose’s Linda Carlson? PC’s are running David Dorward (again), which should help Wildrose there.

Of course very Edmonton-centric as expected. No mention of Ken Hughes and Calgary West or every Liberal riding in Calgary that will likely be battles between the Tories and the Wildrose. My riding Calgary-McCall saw Darshan Kang and the Libs win by very few votes. This time we are seeing a solid three way race there with the WR, Tories and Libs all running credible campaigns.

Everything is in Play!
The thing about this list is that in the past 5 elections, we would be LUCKY to have 15 ridings worth watching. This year is different. With the right dived, rural Alberta and suburban Calgary are back in play for the first time in decades. Everything is up for grabs, even seats that have been Tory landslides since 1971. God it’s gonna be fun to watch!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *