The Tories are tryng to pretend their provincial leadership race is an election. It ain't.
"The number of voters will be a lot fewer than candidates estimated back in September," Steve Patten, a University of Alberta political scientist, told the Sun yesterday.
Three months ago, the camps of top Tory leadership candidates Lyle Oberg, Mark Norris, Jim Dinning and Ted Morton all expected to sell upwards of 100,000 party memberships.
"Add up all their claims and we're talking in the neighbourhood of 500,000 memberships sold to people who would be expected to vote for the next premier," Patten said."Nothing close to that kind of number has materialized."
Patten said he's interested to see how close voter turnout will be to the 78,000 who cast ballots in 1992, when Ralph Klein won the premiership on a second ballot.
Since 1992 our population has grown to be 3.5 million. And it is still growing.
Edmonton is expected to gain 83,000 residents by 2011
Although many former Saskatchewan residents return home for a visit, there are still far too many heading for black gold in Alberta."Pretty much everyone is moving to Alberta these days," said Fritsche, who thinks Saskatchewan should try and capitalize on the growing population that lies right next door.
So when Klein was elected leader 78,000 PC members voted. Even though more memberships than that were sold.
Today we know that the membership sales will not be reflected in those who vote. For instance business and unions have bought up memerships to hand out to get out the vote for their candidates. The Building Trades unions are supporting Oberg, despite his right wing views, because he is promising them jobs with his position on increasing funding for infrastructure.
The Edmonton Business community has gone all out in buying memberships in bulk to hand out to their employees and friends to support Mark Norris. Its a campaign to get an Edmontonian elected leader. They have abandoned Hancock the other Edmontonian because he is a Red Tory, and Norris has pull because of his political family connections.
So less than .o5% of the population will make the decision on who will lead the party and thus elect the leader of the One Party State in Alberta.
When Klein ran it was against Red Tory Nancy Betkowski. A second ballot was needed because he lost to her by one vote. He had sold more memberships than her but his supporters did not come out on the first ballot. This is the fear the Dinning folks have.
That vote was then spilt between the Calgarian For Leader and the Edmontonian for Leader factions. The Red Tories lined up behind Betkowski, the social conservatives behind Klein for the second ballot.Still in the final tally more memberships were sold than came out to vote.
In this race the front runners are Dinning and Oberg.
But the race is split this way;
Dinning represents the Calgary Establishment, a centerist candidate, a liberal fiscally and politically as was Lougheed who supports him.
Norris represents the fiscal conservatives, social liberals, business establishment of Edmonton. Its the anti-Calgary Tories he represents.
Hancock is a Red Tory to the left of the other candidates. His support is really limited to Edmonton to those not supporting Norris. Whom he throws his support behind on a second ballot will be important.
Oberg, Morton, and Doerkson split the social conservative vote between them.
Oberg relies upon the rural anti-urban anti-Calgary voters, based in Southern and Central Alberta. He also has the support of the traditional Liberal Building Trades unions. Though how many of their members will vote is questionable. As it is boom time and the tradesmen are busy working, working, working. Lots of OT versus taking time to vote.
Morton has organized the grass roots social conservative base, and is getting support from Manning, Harper, Day, Kenney, etc. So he poses a second ballot threat to Oberg. Failing that he and Doerkson could combine to push Oberg past Dinning on the second ballot.
Doerkson is a spoiler, taking votes away from Oberg, but a late comer so his campaign is really about anybody but Lyle. His supporters will go to Morton.
Ed Stelmach, farmer, rural vote, fiscal conservative, in this race a centerist compared to the social conservative gang above. His chances are zip, nada.
Though on the second ballot who he throws his support behind could be telling.
Advance polls opened yesterday. The vote is this weekend. Place your wagers.