Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Race For Calgary North Hill (& Edmonton Riverview)

Do I really only have 6 of these left to go? Phew...

Calgary North Hill is an inner-city riding which may feature some of the most tech-savvy candidates in the province. This war is being waged on the InterWeb, using that... what's it called?... social networking... and featuring some pretty hot and heavy blogging. It's actually quite fun to watch. :-) The riding has been Tory Blue since 1971, although in 2004 PC Richard Magnus won the riding by only 1,000 votes. The general consensus in the riding is that Magnus was a less-than-effective voice for them, and the feeling is that it may cost the PC candidate in this election. The dynamic in this riding is very interesting... The PC's, Liberals, and NDP all have a chance here, and this riding was the best riding in the entire province for the Greens in 2004.

The Candidates:
Kyle Fawcett (PC)
Pat Murray (Lib)
John Chan (NDP)
Jane Morgan (WAP)
Kevin Maloney (Grn)
Jim Wright (SC)

Kyle Fawcett was the youngest elected official in Alberta in 2004, when he was elected as a trustee for the Calgary Board of Education. This professional research consultant is a youth baseball and football coach, and maintains a blog which, in the most recent posting, takes some swipes at one of his opponents. Fireworks! Fawcett is a young and vibrant candidate, who appeals more to the youth vote in a lot of ways than he does to the more traditional Tory voter, ages 40+ - that's not to say he DOESN'T appeal to the older voters, he's just much more popular among the youth. Fawcett may be the unlucky recipient of a lot of flack over the previous MLA's performance, so he's going to have to work double-hard to have a shot at this. By all accounts, he's doing just that.

Pat Murray has a pretty humorous video on his website, featuring the adventures of "Patman". The small business owner has also received an enthusiastic endorsement from ward 9 alderman Joe Ceci. The polling numbers for this riding suggest that Murray may benefit from several factors, not the least of which are the disenchantment with the outgoing PC MLA, and the splitting of the right-of-centre vote between 2 solid candidates. Considering how close this riding was in 2004, this is a VERY winnable riding for the Grits.

John Chan is a provincial employee, who has twice run in this area federally for the NDP. A tireless volunteer for more issues than can reasonably be listed here, Chan sustained GUNSHOT WOUNDS to both legs while working on a human rights monitoring project in Guatemala. This riding was very kind to the NDP prior to 1989, and could be inclined to support Chan based on traditional party support and his outstanding record of citizenship and engagement. I wouldn't bet money on it, but with the split on the right, anything is possible in North Hill.

Jane Morgan is an active blogger and poster to the "Project Alberta" boards. Intelligent as hell and the owner of a rapier wit, Morgan can more than handle herself, and would be a fantastic MLA. The former Jane Greydanus (Alliance candidate in the Calgary Elbow by-election) is a big wheel in the Wildrose Alliance, and is a tireless advocate for electoral and democratic reform. She stands to make a splash in the riding, with an extremely organized campaign, talking about issues that matter to the people of North Hill. If the Wildrose Alliance wins a riding in Calgary, I'd bet dollars to donuts that it's Jane Morgan in Calgary North Hill.

Kevin Maloney is a former campaign manager for the Greens in Calgary West (federal), and has a background in communications. Kevin has a video posted on his website, and to be honest he seems a little less than enthusiastic. This is a VERY strong riding for the Greens, the strongest in the province in 2004, in fact. That said, Maloney is in a tough spot, running against a multitude of strong candidates. I don't know if he has a shot at winning the riding, but if he can maintain the votes from 2004, or build on them, this will definitely be a "target riding" for the Greens in 2012 (or so).

Jim Wright is the holder of an International MBA, and has studied at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. A former executive assistant to a Lougheed cabinet minister, Wright is hoping that North Hill decides to go back to the future, and elect a SoCred. Of note, this riding voted the SoCred candidate into second place in each election until 1982, sometimes by less than 70 votes. So, the possibility of support IS there, if Wright can get his message out.

Edmonton Riverview elected Kevin Taft by a 7,000 vote margin in 2004. By all accounts, the spread will NOT be that large in 2008 - and the end result may be entirely different, for that matter. Taft has been the MLA here since 2001. Located just South-West of downtown, the riding includes the University of Alberta and the Grant MacEwan College Centre for Arts.

The Candidates:
Kevin Taft (Lib)
Wendy Andrews (PC)
Erica Bullwinkle (NDP)
Kyle Van Hauwaert (WAP)
Cameron Wakefield (Grn)

Kevin Taft wants to be the Premier of Alberta. Dr. Taft has a PhD in Business, and grew up in the riding. Elected Leader of the Alberta Liberals in early 2004, he handily won here later that year. Taft has undeniably been a very different leader than any recent leader of the Alberta Liberals. Under Taft, the Liberals have taken a much more aggressive stance against the PC's, and have even dared to suggest that, rather than electing a strong Liberal opposition, Albertans might consider electing a Liberal Government instead. Under his leadership, the Liberals have re-emerged as a viable political option in Alberta. Taft's personality rubs some people the wrong way, however, as he is often seen as being too professorial - if there's one thing Albertans hate, it's being made to feel stupid. Polling numbers in this riding show that Taft is in for a fight here, polling at 35% to the PC party's 28%. In the ultimate slap in the face, Taft may lead his Liberals to break through in Calgary, whilst simultaneously losing his seat in Riverview. He's still favoured to hold this seat - but not with any 7,000 seat cushion.

Wendy Andrews is playing the role of David in the Riverview production of David and Goliath. A strong environmentalist, Andrews has held the post of President of the PC Riverview Association. An extremely active volunteer in the community, Wendy is benefiting from the PC "Pull-Out-All-The-Stops" campaign to knock off Taft in his home riding (such operations have been successful in the past). With a very dedicated volunteer base, and a well-written blog, Andrews is making a serious run at Riverview, and could be the dragon-slayer that the PC's are looking for. Ironically, this would open the door for leader-in-waiting Bronco, which probably scares the PCs a lot more than the prospect of another campaign against a Taft-led Liberal party.

Erica Bullwinkle is the proud owner of the coolest name in the 2008 election. An office staffer for the retiring Raj Pannu, former NDP leader, Erica is a community volunteer and education activist. Riverview is by no means a strong riding for the NDP, and a 3rd place finish here will be the most the NDP can hope for.

Kyle Van Hauwaert is an engaging entrepreneur, currently pursuing a Bachelor's of Science from the University of Alberta. A big proponent of what he calls "Direct Democracy Through Technology", the photogenic candidate will likely find it difficult to make inroads here, as the Alliance garnered fewer than 320 votes here in 2004.

Cameron Wakefield is a 5-year member of the Alberta Greens, and a current student of civil engineering at the U of A. The Greens narrowly finished 4th here in 2004, and will be looking to finish as high as 3rd, depending on the GOTV organization in place for the Greens.


Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about Edmonton Riverview, but I do know a little bit about those Ivrnet electronic polls. Basically, this is the company that provides "demon dialing" message services to all of the Tory candidates. Part of the service package includes a couple of electronic polls.

These polls are fully automated and the sample size is not weighted to better reflect the population. Basically, this means that the polls only catch people who have landlines, are home at the time of the call, and choose to accept the call. All modern polling companies face this problem, and all have very sophisticated techniques to solve for it -- that's why we tend to get very divergent poll results from different companies even with large sample sizes.

As far as I know, Ivrnet, not being professional pollsters, do not weight their samples at all, and this is the raw data, which would skew significantly from the voting population (much older for example, which is a big problem in a riding with a university). So such polls need to be taken with a lot of salt -- they are "for entertainment purposes only" as the tagline goes.

Anonymous said...

actually the poll results reflect what i'm getting at the door with Wendy. the fact that people are tired in Riverview that it's always us vs. the govt. Taft and his team up here are running scared and I believe the PC's will make amazing inroads here on March 3rd.