Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Race For Calgary Hays

Formed in 2004, Calgary Hays is one of the newest ridings in the province, and features some of Calgary's newer communities. Indeed, I cannot readily identify ANY areas in this riding that were occupied by anything more than farmhouses when the Enlightened Savage moved to Calgary at age 8, in 1986. Douglasdale, MacKenzie, and Cranston are all well-heeled, suburban areas which sent PC Art Johnston to the Legislature with 63% of the popular vote in 2004.

The Candidates:
Art Johnston (PC)
Bill Kurtze (Lib)
Tyler Kinch (NDP)
Devin Cassidy (WAP)
Keely Bruce (Grn)

Art Johnston is a former cop and decorated sergeant with the Canadian Armed Forces, seeing action in Cyprus. He won the riding handily in 2004, backed by the PGIB. The happy owner of one of the campaign's best websites, Johnston is the beneficiary of a glut of spending announcements and infrastructure projects, owing to the rapid growth of the city in his riding. Schools, roads, recreation facilities, and the new South Calgary Hospital are all items paid for in full or in part by the provincial government, and these projects in their riding have led to a pretty happy electorate. The high number of Big Oil execs and white-collar employees in the riding could result in a small backlash against the PC's as result of the Royalty Regime shift, but overall Johnston is sitting pretty.

Bill Kurtze has one of the best internet domain names in the election, but his website is a pain in the butt to navigate. Kurtze has a wealth of experience in management in the energy sector - positioning him well to reap the benefits of disgruntlement with the Tories in the energy sector - until they remember that Kevin Taft wants to hit them even harder than Ed did. Well, maybe he'll do well with natural gas execs. Kurtze is a strong candidate for the Liberals, although I'm not sold on their ability to win a riding full to the brim with wealthy muckity-mucks. That said, Kurtze's management experience is evident in his campaign, and a well-run machine can sometimes outperform expectations. Call a Kurtze win unlikely... but certainly possible.

Tyler Kinch gets the E.S. Karma as a blogger-turned-candidate. The NDP polled less than 3.5% in this riding in 2004 - blue collar, it's not. In fact, when Brian Mason talks about "ordinary, working families", this riding is probably 83rd on his list. The pianist has been an outspoken advocate for rent controls and affordable housing in the province - which, as a renter, I can certainly make time for. Kinch will be hoping to bring attention to his issues in the election, but has no chance to win this riding. A moral victory - 2nd place - is the best he can hope for, but he'll need to make himself a more acceptable choice for the few left-leaning citizens of Hays than one of their own - a former energy executive.

Devin Cassidy is a curious choice for the Wildrose Alliance Party here in Calgary Hays. Given their position on royalties, the Alliance would have stood to gain some serious traction had they run someone with the credentials of, say, Bill Kurtze. Cassidy is a History major at St. Mary's University College, and an active member of the Knights of Columbus (his extensive study of Latin no doubt comes in handy in both cases). Devin's tastes run very similar to my own, with a professed love of Mozart, Christopher Walken, and Bond, James Bond. The Alliance polled 6% here in the last election. This time, Devin is hoping to beat 007%. (Okay, that was really bad...)

Keely Bruce has no information available at this time.

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