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Alberta Politics

Western Standard’s James Finkbeiner running for UCP nomination in Cypress-Medicine Hat

James Finkbeiner announced on social media that he is seeking the United Conservative Party nomination in Cypress-Medicine Hat.
Finkbeiner was until recently the Vice-President of Operations for the Western Standard, right-wing news website run by former UCP MLA and Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesperson Derek Fildebrandt. Before joining the Western Standard, Finkbeiner was general manager of an oilfield services company.
Drew Barnes Wildrose MLA Cypress Medicine Hat
Drew Barnes (source: Dave Cournoyer)

Incumbent Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes was kicked out of the UCP Caucus in 2021 after becoming one of former Premier Jason Kenney’s loudest critics inside the party. He hasn’t ruled out rejoining the UCP but he is also seriously considering running for re-election as an Independent candidate.

Barnes was first elected in 2012 as a member of Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party and did not cross the floor in 2014. He was re-elected as a Wildrose candidate in 2015 and under the UCP banner in 2019.
Despite serving as official opposition finance critic before the UCP formed government in 2019, Barnes was left out of Kenney’s and Smith’s cabinets. He has publicly advocated for the creation of the Ministry of Autonomy, which he would like to lead.

Rowswell acclaimed in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright

Garth Rowswell Vermilion Lloydminster Wainwright United Conservative Party Election Alberta
Garth Rowswell

UCP MLA Garth Rowswell was acclaimed as his party’s candidate in Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright.

A financial advisor, Rowswell was first elected in 2019 after winning a hotly contested nomination race in 2018.
The NDP have nominated Dawn Flaata in the east central Alberta riding.

Other nomination updates

  • The UCP have scheduled a nomination vote in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock on December 9 and 10. Second-term MLA Glenn van Dijken is being challenged by 24-year old Westlock County Councillor Isaac Skuban.
  • Globe and Mail journalist Carrie Tait reports that incumbent MLA Roger Reid will not reenter the UCP nomination contest in Livingstone-Macleod even after Nadine Wellwood’s disqualification was upheld. The vacancy has sparked speculation that Premier Smith, who lives in the riding, may run for re-election there in 2023. 

Total nominated candidates

The NDP have nominated candidates in 64 of Alberta’s 87 ridings. The UCP have candidates named in 37 ridings and the Green Party has 18 candidates. The Alberta Party has nominated 3 candidates and the Liberal Party has one.

Here are the scheduled upcoming nominations:

  • November 16 – Calgary-West NDP
  • November 20 – Airdrie-East NDP
  • November 23 – Livingstone-Macleod NDP
  • November 26 – St. Albert UCP
  • December 2 & 3 – Drayton Valley-Devon UCP
  • December 3 – Calgary-Elbow UCP
  • December 4 – Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo UCP
  • December 8 – West Yellowhead NDP
  • December 9 & 10 – Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock UCP
  • December 17 – Calgary-North NDP

I am building a list of candidates running for party nominations, so if you are seeking a nomination and would like you name added to the list please let me know. Thanks!

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2 replies on “Western Standard’s James Finkbeiner running for UCP nomination in Cypress-Medicine Hat”

Premier Smith doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to re-embrace Barnes, like she was with his northern independent/rebel counterpart Loewen. I wonder if the history when she tried to destroy her previous party has something to do with it – he went right when she went left, or something like that.

In any event, Finkbeiner seems like the sort of person who could comfortably fit into the UCP. I am not sure who in the UCP vets their candidates now, but he should hope he does not have as many embarrassing social media posts as Wellwood, who was disqualified in Livingstone-Macleod. Apparently being in very friendly, smiley pictures with Smith is not quite enough.

The Livingstone Macleod nomination is an interesting little sidebar. I wonder if Ms. Smith became more interested in running in her home riding after she had a good look at her recent byelection results, where she only squeaked out a victory with 54% of the vote, in spite of the fact that in the 2019 election UCP candidate Michaela Frey got 61% of the vote and disqualified UCP candidate turned independent, Todd Beasley, got an additional 12%.

More importantly, it was urban Medicine Hat that did the damage to Ms. Smith’s victory. I don’t know how evenly Medicine Hat’s 63,000 people are split between Ms. Smith’s Brooks-Medicine Hat riding and Drew Barnes’ Cypress-Medicine Hat, but the riding map looks relatively equal, by area anyway.

By comparison, Livingstone Macleod has only one sort of urban area, High River, which has a population of only 13,500 people.

Thus the argument can be made that Danielle Smith might come out of a general election looking better in Livingstone Macleod than in Brooks Medicine Hat. I wonder if she remembers Don Getty’s embarrassment in 1989, when he won the election but lost his own seat.

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