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Monday, June 11, 2007

t-minus 1.

I spent the past weekend campaigning in Drumheller-Stettler by-election for Tom Dooley.

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.

Third, the Balzac water management issue has exploded in Drumheller. I'm still blown away by how mad the people I spoke with on the doors are about this issue. When the Drumheller Valley Times runs "Liberals show PC's lied" as their frontpage headline, you know this has become a big issue.

As for the other smaller party candidates, it's always tough to predict how well the Greens will do, so it will be interesting to see how Jennifer Wigmore makes out (Her husband ran as the Green candidate in the area during the last Federal Election, so there is probably a certain amount of 'Wigmore' name recognition in the constituency). As for the New Democrats, well... the 'Brian Mason' campaign signs everywhere signal to me that if the New Democrats aren't even buying signs with their candidate's name on them, they've pretty much given up on these races (I hear the same signs have shown up in Calgary Elbow).

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!


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that both of these races are as much a referendum on the government as a tough race between strong local candidates.

Both Craig Cheffins and Brian Heninger have strong roots in Elbow and both have a long record of community service (even if Heninger's choke comment was one of the most bizarre I have ever heard from a candidate).

In Stettler/Drumheller, Jack Hayden was a Reeve in Stettler, Tom Dooley was Deputy Reeve in Drumheller, and Larry Davidson is currently a County Councillor in Drumheller. All have local respect and credibility. I am still surprised at the quality of the candidates that have stepped up.

Local politics matter in these byelections.

Not everything in thses races should be counted on as macro-politics when the micro-politics plays big in both these ridings.

Anonymous said...

We in the NDP haven't given up in Drumheller-Stettler though we are realistic about our chances. The "Brian Mason" signs are part of our effort to be more environmentally conscious than the Green Party.

Problem for us New Democrats is that because of the by-election every party thinks they have a chance and are pouring money into the ridding. I'm sure that the NDP will lose votes to the Greens and to the Liberals. Keep in mind, however, that neither of these parties even bothered to show up during the last election.

We have no illusions about winning. This is small "c" conservative country. However, you'd be surprised how many young people subscribe to NDP values. Not saying that things are going to change overnight, but I'm hopeful things will change here. One day. Those of us New Democrats who are currently in the political wilderness just have to keep the faith.

Unknown said...

Scuttlebutt has that the NDP dropped some serious coin on these by-elections (mainly in Elbow) and is now really running short on cash.

Anonymous said...

At least if Heninger loses he can always become a professional hitman.

Anonymous said...

Insiders have admitted the NDP signs are generic because the party didn't want to spend the cash (which it doesn't really have) on candidates that were nominated after the by-election call. It's not an eco-friendly effort by any means. If the party thought it actually had a chance, wouldn't it want to raise the profile and advertise the candidate's names? What serious party nominates candidates, with any hope of them winning with only 35 days of campaigning?? The war in Iraq would have to end before the NDs had a chance in these ridings, and they know it.

Anonymous said...

Is the NDP candidate willing to choke Brian Mason if elected?

"Steve Smith" said...

I was in both Stettler and Drumheller over the weekend, and was pretty surprised by what I saw. Based on signs on private property (which isn't a good measure, but it's the best I had since I wasn't door-knocking or anything), it looks like a race between Dooley and Davidson. Literally the only Hayden signs I saw anywhere in Drumheller were on his campaign headquarters.

I suspect he'll still win. I'm just saying that somebody who, lacking context, visited the riding during the campaign they'd have the impression that he was running a distant third at best.