Another Wildroser bit the dust on the weekend. Rick Strankman, UCP MLA for Drumheller – Stettler lost his bid for a candidate nomination in the riding he’s held since 2012. Strankman is the first sitting MLA to be defeated in a nomination contest and only the fifth legacy Wildrose MLA so far to face a contested nomination that lasted until the votes were cast.
Airdrie UCP MLA Angela Pitt faced the first contested nomination with Roger Millions, former Flames sportscaster and received 71% of the vote to maintain her candidacy for the UCP. The Party’s only other female MLA at the time, Leela Aheer in Chestermere – Rockyview, also faced a contested nomination but the only challenger who did not drop out of his own volition was disqualified before the vote. Glenn van Dijken won his nomination against one challenger in Barrhead – Morinville – Westlock, as did Mark Smith, Drayton Valley – Devon and Ron Orr from Lacombe – Ponoka. MLA Dave Hanson took Lac La Biche – St. Paul – Two Hills with two challengers outlasting the dreaded 11th hour disqualification.
As it turns out, even those who outlast the 11th hour may not be safe. The “preferred candidate” for Lac St. Anne – Parkland (if you count endorsements from seven sitting MLAs and the former leader of the Wildrose as an indication of preference) was Leah Wood but it appeared, momentarily, as if the grassroots may still be in control as they elected Johnson instead. Johnson, however, neglected to mention he was once a victim of assault by an employee before terminating her employment and has recently been relieved of his nomination in the UCP’s first post-nomination disqualification. No word yet if another nomination race will be held as the news was dropped on Saturday.
UCP House Leader Jason Nixon, MLA in Rimbey – Rocky Mountain House – Sundre, was acclaimed, as was interim UCP Party leader Olds – Didsbury – Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper. Drew Barnes, Cypress Medicine – Hat, Todd Loewen (Grande Prairie – Smoky) Central – Peace – Notley, Grant Hunter, Taber – Warner, Tany Yao, Fort McMurray – Wood Buffalo, and Prasad Panda (Calgary – Foothills) Calgary – Edgemont, were also acclaimed. While some UCP members have suggested their process is “more democratic” than other parties it seems they will also acclaim candidates who have no challengers.
Three former Wildrose MLAs, Pat Stier in Livingstone – MacLeod, Dave Schneider in Cardston – Taber – Warner, and Scott Cyr in Bonnyville – Cold Lake announced back in 2017 they would not seek the nomination in their ridings. Former Wildrose MLAs Don MacIntyre and Brian Jean stepped down in February and March respectively and Wes Taylor, Battle River – Wainwright, announced he would not seek the UCP nomination in May.
The final contest involving a legacy Wildrose MLA will take place on October 16, 2018 in the riding of Highwood where incumbent Wayne Anderson is facing four challengers for the nomination.
This post contains a smidgen of opinion.
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