The Progressive Conservatives will select their latest leader in September, a mere five months away. You would think that the lineup to claim such a glittering political prize would be long, but so far it begins and ends with Ken ‘Who?’ Hughes.
Hughes, the Calgary West MLA and grown-up version of Charlie Brown, left cabinet and announced his candidacy April 11. First to declare isn’t a bad strategy (it worked for Ed Stelmach) and Hughes will need every available minute to pull this off; it appears he doesn’t even have a website yet, which is entirely clueless in 21st century politics.
So for now, Hughes is the frontrunner, or, put another way, the onlyrunner. I don’t know much about Hughes (I’ll leave it up to this blog by David Climenhaga to fill you in), but he seems relatively inoffensive. I don’t think being inoffensive is necessarily a plus for the PCs at this stage — Stelmach was the very definition of inoffensive, and look what that did for them.
The favourite political game in Alberta right now is conjecture about who else might join the fray. More interesting, and telling, to me right now is how few there are in the race. September may seem long way off, but in political terms, it’s almost right around the corner. There is a huge amount of organizing to do, even huger amounts of money to raise. Taking into account that many of the weeks leading up to the vote are during our precious summer months where only the most fanatical political types want to talk politics, and you could almost say that time is of the essence.
So, why so many alleged tire kickers and so few buyers?
First, some of the slightly more viable candidates ran in 2011. Doug Horner and Doug Griffiths, both still MLAs today, both gave it a whirl and ended up with nothing but bills. Gary Mar was the golden boy to some in 2011. He was, in fact, yesterday’s man then, which makes him even further past his best-before date today. Ditto Rick Orman, who has vanished from the scene. Ted Morton, I assume, is holed up in a bunker somewhere.
Second, and more importantly, there just aren’t many viable candidates. The Tory front bench is thinner than Alison Redford’s power base. There are no stand-outs in the Tory ranks, just a bunch of ‘meh’ candidates. It is a measure of the weakness of the potential field (or the laziness of the press gallery) that the oily Thomas Lukaszuk is often mentioned. Remember, this is a guy with such great personal skills that he actually got into a fight with an old man while door-knocking in his constituency.
And the third reason why there seems to be so little interest in taking over the PCs … who wants to captain the Titanic?