Randy Dawson is a king maker, sort of.... If you count the Ed Stelmach leadership victory and my own part of the 2008 72 seat landslide. But if you are counting on Randy to be able to make Jim Prentice the new king, well I'd suggest you make certain you have a robust exit strategy from what will undoubtedly be a very interesting battle of cash verses commitment.
Rumours abound that Rick McIvor and Thomas Lukaszuk are kicking tires and raising the $50,000 entrance fee to the leadership race. Personally, I think Rick is the more fiscally conservative of the two, but I'd have to back Thomas in this one. I've known him a long time.
It's an interesting thought; my old constituency, Edmonton Calder will be probably be represented by the new leader of the NDP and Edmonton Castledowns, directly adjacent, possibly by the new Premier. This will make the 137 avenue dividing line the English Channel of Alberta politics. (Proving, yet again, that it is still "All in Calder")
That would be a first; polar opposite political ideologies separated by 200 feet of recycled rubber tire asphalt instead of razor wire and machine guns. It's about time the old hood got some attention.
But there are other reasons to support a leadership race than amusing geography:
- Provincial politics is the best job Thomas or Rick have ever had.
- Provincial politics is the worse job Jim will ever have.
- Thomas and Rick make a good living,
- Jim makes well over seven figures and has "people".
- Thomas and Rick, know how to grill hot dogs, build play grounds in foreign countries and cut giant cakes in the rain,
- Jim has "people".
- Jim needs a strategy to connect to common Albertans,
- Thomas and Rick are common Albertans.
I understand the Prentice campaign is doing the usual MLA threats and intimidation thing. I'm told 40 MLAs have already signed on to Jim, most I suspect seeking safety and a seat after the next election. But 40 MLAs equals 40 votes, plus whatever some can deliver, Thomas and Rick on the other hand probably have no MLA support, but that is hardly an certain sign of weakness: ask Redford or Stelmach.
Progressive Conservative Albertans are not stupid. The rules are better this time so memberships matter and vote splitting does not.
With Randy Dawson and his crew demanding 2,000 votes from each of the 40 MLA's you know only the ones who actually deliver will become Jim's "people", otherwise known as cabinet ministers.
That's really the point though: let the MLA's know that they must sell to become one of Jim's "people". Jim does not have the same problems as ordinary Albertans, many, in his role with CIBC he arguably, contributes to. He may have charisma, his suits might cost more than my truck, but we've gone down this path of electing elitists before and it did not end well; for the elitist or for us.
If I were in opposition I'd be hoping for a coronation: I'd want it to be Jim only contest with no other worthy contenders. That thought alone should be worth a significant number of seats in rural Alberta. Go for it Randy, make yourself a King.