For the first time since the late 1990s conservative minded Albertans are unified under one political banner. Jason Kenney was the prime orchestrator of the unity movement from its inception to its conclusion with 95% merger support from the memberships of both the Progressive Conservative Party & the Wildrose Party. Kenney demonstrated the same drive and organizational strength as he solidly took the leadership of the nascent United Conservative Party. With such a solid and proven record as a formidable campaigner and strategist, the prospect of facing off against Jason Kenney in a general election is a discomforting one for any NDP strategist who maintains any basis in political reality.
All the above being said, it is not simply Jason Kenney’s leadership alone that has the NDP and their supporters in abject terror for their political lives today. Those who follow political movements recognize that a massive, well organized movement has developed that will be difficult to stop whether Jason Kenney leads it or not. Conservatives have truly united and will now be able to focus on forming the next government with pragmatic common sense goals and policies.
The leadership race for the UCP was hard fought and with no holds barred. While it is painful to endure such races, they are indeed prequels for what the general election will look like. Whoever was going to lead us against the Notley Regime in the next election had to prove themselves to be tough and exceedingly well organized in what will be a terribly rough campaign.
Due to the nature of these races they can be very dangerous for parties. Leadership races can turn into civil wars that create rifts that never heal within the party. Opponents and detractors of united conservatives poked as hard as they could from the sidelines in hopes of fostering division within the party.
To the disappointment of Notley and her supporters, the UCP came out of the race more unified than ever.
In this picture we see three very dedicated supporters for three different leadership candidates. Dean Leask on the left passionately supported Brian Jean’s leadership bid. In the middle and wearing my best wrinkled shirt, I supported Jason Kenney. On the right and looking much more presentable is my wife Jane Morgan who stepped down from the UCP leadership committee as she strongly felt she wanted to get involved and help Doug Schweitzer on his campaign. All of us serious and committed conservative supporters and all firmly in different camps.
Now that the race is over, we are unified in our support of the UCP under Jason Kenney. Dean will still drop by my pub, Jane still lets me come to bed with her (except after times when I have indulged in taco Tuesday) and we all will be working hard together to replace the NDP government with a UCP one.
The picture is indicative of the rest of the room that night. There are some sour grapes out there. There are some folks who need a little time to embrace the party under the new leadership. All in all though, the vast majority of the membership is united and looking ahead today. Hopes for an internal implosion by some have been dashed.
The picture above is even more striking and indicative of how and why the UCP is striking fear into the left.
Along with my wife and I we see Piotr and Christina Pilarski. Both very politically active and driven couples who have worked on a number of campaigns. Until recently though, we were always on different teams. As Wildrosers and PCs we all fought tooth and nail with each other for years. That was the kind of division that led to our accidental NDP government and that division is utterly gone today. We all will be working together to defeat the NDP now.
I have attended countless Wildrose gatherings over the last ten years. Last summer I attended my very first Progressive Conservative function when I went to the PC leadership gathering. Last Sunday I went to the UCP leadership race and was thrilled to see all the political movers and shakers from both parties all in one spot. It was not a tense gathering. It was not a forced marriage. We are all pumped and excited about being on the same team. The NDP has given us cause to unite in a way that no conservative leader ever could.
Think of the resources duplicated and wasted in the last few general elections as the Wildrose and PC parties battled with all they had. Strategists, campaign managers, donors and thousands of volunteers at every level all divided and working against each other. While a tiny minority of those have chosen not to join the UCP, clearly the vast majority have stayed on.
Now imagine the campaign machine that is in the works here. All of these people, the experience and the funds united with a common cause and under the leadership of a masterful campaigner.
That is what has the NDP in a true panic. Its not just Jason Kenney’s leadership. Its the huge and dedicated organization of people now focused together on ridding Alberta of its accidental, socialist government.
Rachel Notley usually shows composure. In a tweet this morning though, she clearly lost control and her petty and belligerent tweet this morning showed the abject terror that has infected her.
Yes, the tired old fear and smear drum is being beaten and it will be in an ever more shrill way until the NDP are finally tossed soundly from the legislature of Alberta in a general election.
I guess we can’t exactly expect the NDP to campaign on their sound fiscal management or on the “social license” that they never managed to buy us with the wretched carbon tax. Fear & smear is all they have.
Thank’s to Dave Rodney stepping aside, we will get to see a micro-preview of the next campaign as a by-election will be held in Calgary Lougheed. I sort of feel sorry for the residents of that constituency as they are about to be barraged by what will be one of the largest single constituency campaign teams that the province has ever seen. Volunteers from the new UCP are chomping at the bit to work on a campaign together against the NDP and they will be coming out in the hundreds if not the thousands as the by-election is fought. No door will go without being knocked multiple times nor phones without multiple calls. Hopefully Notley calls the election before Christmas so voters can get an assured non-political break right after the campaign.
As I said in a posting yesterday, David Khan finds himself rather hooped here. He is a brand new party leader as well and he needs a seat. His hopes are slim to none in Lougheed but he will look terribly weak if he doesn’t contest it.
One possible out for Khan would be in Calgary Mountainview if David Swann steps aside. Swann has no plans to run again and leaving a year or so early won’t harm his ambitions much This would be a terrible gamble for the Alberta Liberals though as they very possibly could find themselves going from one seat in the legislature down to none if Khan can’t win in Mountainview.
If David Khan can’t win in Calgary Mountainview in a by-election though, I think it is safe to say that he can’t win anywhere. Mountainview is the closest thing that the Liberal Party has to a provincial stronghold in Alberta.
Personally, I think that Doug Schweitzer would be an ideal UCP candidate to run in Mountainview as well. What better place to send out a dynamic, young and moderate urban Calgarian UCP candidate? I am just spitballing here of course but I think it would be a great race and if he won he would be a great addition to caucus.
We are in for some exciting political times in the next few months no matter how you look at it. As a conservative I have never felt so optimistic as I am now with this new united movement. There is a mountain of work to be done before the next general election but with this giant and experienced group, I am confident that it will be well polished by the spring of 2019. Yes, Rachel has good reason to fear for her job.