Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft with Calgary Elbow MLA-elect Craig Cheffins on Tuesday night.
Category: Calgary Elbow By-Election
I’ve had some time to compile some thoughts about yesterday’s by-elections. Here are some of them:
Alberta Liberal candidate Craig Cheffins was elected in Calgary Elbow – Ralph Klein’s former constituency and a bedrock Tory constituency since 1971. This is significant for all the obvious reasons.
Though I don’t think Cheffins’ election in Calgary Elbow is a complete deathblow to the Stelmach Tories, I do think it is a substantial kick in the teeth. Voters in Calgary Elbow sent a strong message that Calgary may be more in-play than it has been in a long time. Many Calgarians aren’t happy with the Stelmach Tories and if strong local candidates like Craig Cheffins continue to let their name stand for Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals in Calgary, the Tories could be in trouble in the next election.
While many Calgary Tory MLAs are rumoured to be stepping down in the next election, the Alberta Liberals are already starting to line up quality candidates like Kent Hehr (Calgary Buffalo), Carole Oliver (Calgary Fort), and Avalon Roberts (Calgary Glenmore).
For those of your keeping score, you can add another Ed Stelmach-point to the Strom-o-meter. In 1969, the Lougheed Tories wrestled away the Strathcona East constituency following Socred Premier Ernest Manning’s retirement. Peter Lougheed led the Tories to victory over Premier Harry Strom’s Social Credit Party in 1971.
Tory Jack Hayden’s landslide victory wasn’t a big surprise as Drumheller-Stettler is probably one of the strongest conservative constituencies in Alberta. There are some interesting results though. Alberta Liberal candidate Tom Dooley may have won 14% across the constituency, but won 9 out of the 11 Town of Drumheller polls (something that reflects the warm reaction on the doors last weekend).
If the Liberals are able to become competitive in Alberta’s smaller cities like Drumheller, then a number of normally safe-Tory rural ridings will shift to the in-play column.
Albertans already hold the lowest voter turnout rates in Canada, so it wasn’t surprising that turnout was dismal yesterday. It doesn’t downplay the significance of the Liberal victory in Calgary Elbow and I don’t think you can place the blame for this on any one thing, but his is a serious issue that needs to be discussed and addressed (in a soon to be written post).
RIP Alberta Alliance:
The results of this by-election were a clear deathblow for the Alberta Alliance. Even with the help of Alliance Leader Paul Hinman, Drumheller-Stettler Alliance candidate Dave France still only garnered 5% of the vote – 8% less than he won in the 2004 General Election – and 2% behind Alberta independent advocate John Rew. If the Alliance can’t win votes in Drumheller-Stettler, the question must be asked if they can win anywhere else.
The Unstoppable New Democrats
The New Democrats garnering 1% in Drumheller-Stettler and 3% in Calgary Elbow. These results certainly prove that the New Democrats are a force to be reckoned with in Alberta – watch out!
Alberta Liberal candidate Craig Cheffins was elected in tonight’s by-election in Calgary Elbow (Ralph Klein’s former seat).
Craig Cheffins, Liberal – 4801 (46%)
Brian Heninger, PC – 4017 (38%)
George Read, Grn – 611 (6%)
Jane Greydanus, Alliance – 456 (4%)
Al Brown, NDP – 348 (3%)
Trevor Grover, SC – 175 (2%)
Jeff Willerton, Ind – 124 (1%)
Here’s the unofficial poll-by-poll breakdown.
Let the vote counting begin.
Don’t forget to get out and vote today if you live in Calgary Elbow or Drumheller-Stettler. The by-election polls are open from 9:00am to 8:00pm.
If you don’t know where to vote, you can find your polling station here.
Being in Drumheller, I didn’t expect a warm reception at the doors, so I was pretty surprised at the positive reaction I recieved when I told people I was campaigning for Tom Dooley (quite literally every second door).
It soon became fairly clear that Tom Dooley is a really well known man in the Drumheller area (he’s also a really nice guy). As a local rancher, former County Councillor and Deputy Reeve, I get the feeling Tom Dooley do pretty well in Drumheller.
Even though Tory candidate Jack Hayden is considered the by many to be the frontrunner in this long-time rural ‘c’onservative riding, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a substantial slip in the ‘C’onservative vote this time around. I say this for a number of reasons.
First, it’s a by-election. In by-elections, voters can express their satifaction or disatisfaction with the governing party without changing government.
Second, with four right-wing candidates in the running, there is a good chance that the ‘c’onservative vote will be split between Hayden, Social Credit candidate Larry Davidson (Davidson actually had noticeably more signs on private property in Drumheller than Hayden), Alliance candidate Dave France, and Alberta Independence advocate John Rew. This right-wing split could cause some interesting senarios when the votes are counted.
As for the Calgary Elbow race (which most of the media attention has been on), some of the media outlets seem to be calling it already, but I’ve been around enough election campaigns to know that it’s not over until the polls close at 8pm (or on the third judicial recount in some cases). It’s been a hot race between Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins and Brian “the choker” Heninger, so it should add some excitement to tomorrow’s day on the Alberta political scene.
Nether the less, both the Drumheller-Stettler and Calgary Elbow by-elections tomorrow will be uphill battles for any of the opposition candidates running as both constituencies have been held by the Tories for over 30 years
If you live in either of these constituencies, remember to get out and vote tomorrow!
More later, but what?
“I’d choke our premier,” Heninger says to the disgruntled voter, the latest in a string of citizens who have expressed frustration with Progressive Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach.
UPDATE: As Dan points out, Stelmach has provided Albertans with an incredibly entertaining update:
According to reports, [Henninger] told a constituent at the door he would like to “choke” Stelmach. The premier said that kind of enthusiasm is exactly what he wants in his MLAs.
The official candidates list has been released for the June 12 by-elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler. There are seven candidates in each race (and there’s no shortage of right-wing candidates to split up the right-of-centre vote).
Al Brown, NDP
Craig Cheffins, Alberta Liberal
Jane Greydanus, Alliance
Trevor Grover, Social Credit
Brian Heninger, PC
George Read, Green
Jeff Willerton, Independent
Richard Bough, NDP
Larry Davidson, Social Credit
Tom Dooley, Alberta Liberal
Dave France, Alliance
Jack Hayden, PC
John Rew, Independent
Jennifer Wigmore, Greens
Though it’s not unexpected, I’m still a little surprised at the amount of right-wing candidates that appeared out of the woodwork to run in these by-elections. Though Calgary Elbow still remains a race between Craig Cheffins and Brian Heninger, the Drumheller-Stettler race could end up having very interesting results depending on the vote split between Jack Hayden, Tom Dooley, Dave France, Larry Davidson, and Jennifer Wigmore.
(Apologies for the lame Lord of the Rings reference in the title…)
The Prince Edward Island provincial election is today. A CRA Poll released on May 17 had the Robert Ghiz’s Liberals at 49% to Premier Pat Binns Tories 42%. The Greens were at 5% and the New Democrats at 4%.
Closer to home, I spent Saturday campaigning in Calgary Elbow with Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft and candidate Craig Cheffins. Both were very well received at the doors in Elbow.
I’m still blown away by the amount of hostility the voters I spoke with held towards Premier Ed Stelmach and his cabinet. It’s not just Mayor Dave Bronconnier who’s unhappy with the Tories…
It’s quite an excting by-election campaign. There are lawn signs everywhere as both the Alberta Liberal and Tory canadidates are campaigning hard in this riding.
Also, I can personally confirm that there is one more ‘R’ in Calgary Elbow than there was two weeks ago…
The By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler are set for Tuesday June 12.
I heard that Mr. Heninger removed his campaign office sign today…
best headquaters ever!
The by-election in Calgary Elbow was called yesterday and it is anticipated to be a hotly contested race between Alberta Liberal Craig Cheffins and PC candidate Brian Heninger. The by-election is set for June 12.
As the affordable housing crisis and the battle between Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier and Tory Premier Ed Stelmach play out (almost daily) on the front pages of Calgary’s dailies, these issues will likely play a big part in the Calgary Elbow campaign
Other nominated candidates include Social Credit candidate Trevor Grover, Alberta Alliance candidate Jane Greydanus (Ms. Greydanus has also authored 2063 posts on the Project Alberta webboard under the profile name “First Lady” and is engaged to former Alberta Independence Party leader Cory Morgan), and Green Party leader George Read. The mighty New Democrats have yet to announce their candidate.
Calgary Elbow was created in 1971 and MLA’s have included David Russell (1971-1989) and Ralph Klein (1989-2007). Here are the election results since 1989.
Ralph Klein, PC – 6,958
Stephen Brown, Liberal – 4,938
Allison Roth, Greens – 668
Diana-Lynn Brooks, Alliance – 488
Becky Kelley, NDP – 345
Trevor Grover, SC – 69
Lloyd Blimke, Ind 51
Ralph Klein, PC – 10,213
Harold Swanson, Liberal – 4,533
Mathew Zachariah, NDP – 369
Monier Rahall, Ind – 166
Ralph Klein, PC – 8,237
Harold Swanson, Liberal – 5,195
Lera Shirley, SC – 421
Shawn Christie, NDP – 307
Frank Haika, NLP – 75
Ralph Klein, PC – 10,061
Madeleine King, Liberal – 6,142
Eileen Teslenko, NDP – 617
Steve Tobler, SC – 312
Miel Gabriel, Ind – 101
Bruce Hansen, NL – 85
Ralph Klein, PC – 4,505
Gilbert Clark, Liberal – 3,682
David Jones, NDP – 719
Larry Heather, Ind – 174
By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler were called this afternoon.
Writ Day: June 12.
More detailed post coming soon.
Here’s what the media is saying about the June 12 By-Elections in Calgary Elbow and Drumheller-Stettler:
Maclean’s: Cracks in Tory Monolith
Calgary Sun: Candidates off and running in Calgary Elbow and Grit feels Tories on a De-Klein
Edmonton Sun Grits anxious for Calgary Elbow
CBC: Alberta By-Elections to be held in June
770 CHQR: Former Klein Strategist Fears Riding May Go To Liberals
With two upcoming by-elections in Alberta, the Spring Session of the Legislature could play a big role in determining the direction voters in these two ridings end sailing towards. The seats were vacated by former Premier Ralph Klein and former Finance Ministry Shirley McClellan.
In Drumheller-Stettler, consultant and former President of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties Jack Hayden is lining up for the PC nomination. Hayden had previously ran for the PC nomination against former MLA Judy Gordon in the former riding of Lacombe-Stettler in 2000. The Alberta Greens have scheduled a nomination meeting for March 5. Kevin Taft’s Alberta Liberals have yet to set a nomination date, but word through the grapevine is that a credible local candidate will step up to the plate.
There should be a full slate of candidates in Drumheller-Stettler, but being one of the deepest backwater conservative strongholds, it will take a strong camapaign to move Drumheller-Stettler any closer to the centre than a deep blue conservative. Look for the main opposition parties to be gunning for strong showings rather than victory.
Calgary Elbow presents a different picture. Located in what some political observers have coined the “Latte Belt,” Calgary Elbow showed strong support for the Alberta Liberals in 2004 against-the-odds of an incumbent Premier. There will likely be a full slate of candidates including Social Credit candidate Trevor Grover (I’m sure Social Credit will hit a highwater mark of 200 votes this time around). The Alberta Liberals have scheduled their nomination meeting for March 22. The Tory nominations in both ridings will occur in mid- to late-April.
I’m predicting both by-elections to occur sometime in June.