Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Alberta Election: Top 10 Electoral Districts I'll Be Watching

10) Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock: This was the seat held by 9 term PC MLA Ken Kowalski. The Wildrose is running one of its more familiar names here, Link Byfield, former publisher of the Alberta Report magazine. Byfield is up against Westlock County deputy reeve Maureen Kubinec.

9) Lacombe-Ponoka: The PC Party had to scramble to put a candidate in here (Steve Christie) after Ray Prins, chairman of the infamous "No Work" Committee stepped down when the scandal broke. The voters here are a little bit pissed about it, and I don't blame them. Either Christie or Rod Fox for the Wildrose will win here.

8) Lethbridge-West: A strong four-horse race in Lethbridge-West has incumbent Greg Weadick against perennial Liberal candidate Bal Boora, long-time NDP staffer Shannon Phillips, and Wildrose's Kevin Kinahan. So far, it looks like Kinahan has the upper hand.

7) Calgary-Cross: Popular five-term MLA and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Yvonne Fritz is engaged in a tight race with controversial Wildrose best-name-ever candidate Happy Mann. Mann landed himself in the headlines after it was learned he is facing two lawsuits for his part in a real estate development.  Also of note, Cross had a 27% voter turnout in the 2008 election.

6) Edmonton-Rutherford: PC Fred Horne won here in 2008 by 58 votes over Rick Miller for the Liberals. Horne and Miller are both back this time around, but are now accompanied by Michael Walters, who probably represents the Alberta Party's best chance at a seat. It's either that, or he'll split the Liberal vote, allowing Horne to cruise to an easy win.

5) Edmonton-Sherwood Park: An interesting race here: The PCs are running unpopular former Strathcona County Mayor Cathy Olesen, who allegedly won the nomination by a single vote. Also making another appearance is Independent Jim Ford, who finished in the last federal election with a formidable 14,000 votes. This may split the vote, leaving Garnett Genuis of the Wildrose to claim an upset win.

4) Calgary-Greenway: The new poster child for Alberta intolerance, Pastor Ron Leech, is running here. His comments about how he felt that "as a Caucasian I have an advantage" had a lot of people pissed off and may have damaged Wildrose's fortunes in Calgary. Previously, he had written an article for the Herald in 2004, stating "to affirm homosexuality is to distort the image of God, to insult the nature and being of God." Having said that, I don't believe he's down and out yet. Leech finished a strong second in Calgary-Montrose in 2008 as an independent, losing to Manmeet Bhullar of the PC's by 617 votes.

3) Edmonton-Meadowlark: The Liberal party is polling a distant fourth province-wide which could mean bad news for leader Raj Sherman. His strongest challenger here is former MLA Bob Maskell for the PCs. Wildrose candidate Rick Newcombe is no slouch either. To make it even more interesting, Sherman was first elected here in 2008 as a PC, before being booted from caucus.

2) Edmonton-Glenora: Everyone is watching this one, and all five parties believe their candidate can win. Minister of Culture and Community Services Heather Klimchuk is being challenged by former Liberal MLA Rick Miller, former NDP leader Ray Martin, former Edmonton mayoral challenger Don Koziak for the Wildrose, and former school board trustee/former Alberta Party interim leader Sue Huff.

1) Calgary-Elbow: The polls show that the Wildrose is leading in Premier Alison Redford's constituency, which would be a major embarrassment to the PCs. This hasn't happened since Don Getty was defeated by Percy Wickman in Edmonton-Whitemud. Needless to say, both parties will be pulling out all the stops to win this one. Redford is up against virtually unknown investment professional James Cole.