As a Liberal party supporter, I am disappointed — and a little worried — by the results of the first round of balloting to replace Ed Stelmach as captain of the unsinkable Ship Tory.
I was hoping Ted Morton would make a better showing — even winning. This has nothing to do with who I want to see as premier, and everything to do with who I wanted to see lead the Tories into the next election.
From a Liberal point of view, Doug Horner is preferable, Gary Mar troubling, and Allison Redford is a potential neutron bomb that would destroy the party. Let me explain.
The elimination of Terrible Teddy Morton from the race spells the end of Morton as a force in the PC party, and the end of a tantalizing right-wing faceoff.
Morton barely waited for Ed Stelmach’s political corpse to cool before he quit his cabinet post to run. He was in the race for the longest, raised $1 million, and garnered only 6,962 votes, and a sad fourth place finish.
What happened to Morton? Perhaps he was seen as too old in a young field. Perhaps the party faithful was still holding it against him for not working well with Ed Stelmach. Maybe it was that hilariously ill informed Globe and Mail editorial that supported him. Or, most likely, the party just wasn’t buying what Morton was selling.
The end of Morton as a force in the party is significant. Morton represented the very conservative wing of the Progressive Conservative party, and was seen as the answer to Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Alliance. A Morton v. Smith election would have been a right v. righter battle, leaving the progressive or less-conservative field wide open for the Liberals, NDP, and the Alberta Party. But the party rank and file (and the tens of thousands of Tories For A Day) has signified they don’t want the party to go hard right to counter the Wildrose. Perhaps the Tories, riding higher in the polls lately, just don’t see the Wildrose as the threat it was once seen.
Now it’s down to three: two right of centre (but not crazy right) candidates, and one with a definite Red Tory hue.
Mar represents the city (read: Calgary) moderate right of the party. Alison Redford represents the city (read: Calgary) moderate left of the party. If Redford wins, as one longtime Liberal told the Globe’s Josh Wingrove, the Liberals might as well fold their tent and call it quits. Redford’s background is more liberal than most Liberals, and would provide a lot of progressive voters an excuse to abandon the Liberals (or the NDP, or the Alberta Party) with the hope of putting in place a more progressive government.
Horner, I think, is the most beatable from an opposition standpoint. Uncharismatic, not really rural and not really city, Horner is the least interesting candidate among the survivors. He is hampered by memories of Ed Stelmach; the party did the same thing with Dreary Eddie, and even though they won Stelmach’s only election by a huge margin, the party (read: Calgary) didn’t take to this small town nice guy. Nobody inside Fortress Tory wants another Stelmach scenario.
Regardless, Mar’s lead is so huge, and his money reserves so vast, I can’t imagine any compromise second or third place candidate overtaking him. But now he has two weeks of walking around with a bull’s eye on his back. And two weeks is an eternity in politics.