19 Alberta ridings I’ll be watching closely on Election Day
From the competitive to the wacky, it's on my radar
There are four days left until Election Day in Alberta.
Daveberta readers will know I’ve been watching this Alberta election pretty closely and, while I’ve actually been watching all 87 ridings throughout the campaign, there are a few handfuls I’ve been keeping a close eye on.
Some of them will be close races and some will be won with landslides.
Here’s my list of 19 ridings I’ll be watching closely on Election Day.
There are a lot more seats that the parties believe are in play in Calgary in this election but here are five that stuck out for me.
In Calgary-Bow, United Conservative Party candidate Demetrios Nicolaides is running for re-election against Alberta NDP candidate Druh Farrell. Farrell is a former six-term former city councillor and a big name in Calgary politics, but her lengthy time in municipal politics means that name recognition is a double-edged sword. Nicolaides served as Advanced Education minister in Jason Kenney’s and Danielle Smith’s governments, so that gives him some name recognition. But the presence of Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche candidate Brian Jean and other rural UCP MLAs on the campaign trail in this riding suggests the UCP see the riding as vulnerable to an NDP flip.
Calgary-Elbow has a storied history in Alberta politics as the home riding of former premiers Ralph Klein and Alison Redford, but it also flipped to the Liberals in a 2007 by-election and to the Alberta Party in 2015. The UCP’s Doug Schweitzer claimed the seat for the UCP in 2019 but resigned as MLA last August, leaving the seat vacant since. UCP candidate Chris Davis comes from the more moderate branch of his party and is facing a strong challenge from NDP candidate Samir Kayande, a well-known energy analyst. Also in the mix is Alberta Party candidate Kerry Cundal, who hopes to reclaim a seat in the Legislature for her party.
UCP candidate Whitney Issik is running for a second term in office in Calgary-Glenmore and is facing a challenge from NDP star candidate Nagwan Al-Guneid, a respected expert in sustainable energy development who won a contested nomination last spring.
Calgary-Klein was one of a small handful of Calgary ridings that the NDP narrowly lost in 2019. UCP candidate Jeremy Nixon is running for re-election and has name recognition that a lot of other first term MLAs don’t. He ran twice for the Wildrose Party in the riding before he was first elected in 2019. Nixon faces NDP candidate Lizette Tejada, a local community organizer and constituency manager in the neighbouring Calgary-Mountain View riding.
When Rajan Sawhney announced she was not running for re-election in Calgary-North East, it looked like her provincial political career was over. But Sonya Savage’s decision to bow out at the last minute created an opening and Sawhney was appointed as the UCP candidate in Calgary-North West. By all accounts she has been a competent and likeable cabinet minister and it will be interesting to see whether she can defeat NDP candidate Michael Lisboa-Smith in her new riding.
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Edmonton and the Donut
Calgary has got a lot of attention in this election campaign, but a handful of suburban and rural (rurban?) ridings surrounding Edmonton are also in play and could be key in determining which party forms government if the NDP are unable to make big gains in Calgary.
UCP candidate Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk faces a challenge from Vegreville town councillor Taneen Rudyk in Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, who is running for the NDP. Rudyk is the former president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and daughter of former Vegreville MLA Derek Fox.
Former Sturgeon County councillor and cattle farmer Karen Shaw is a good catch for the NDP in Morinville-St. Albert and someone who would be qualified to become Agriculture minister in a future Rachel Notley cabinet. Shaw faces UCP candidate Dale Nally, who was first elected in 2019 and has served in various junior cabinet roles since.
The twin Strathcona County ridings, Sherwood Park and Strathcona-Sherwood Park, also appear to be in play. Solar energy expert Kyle Kasawski and County Councillor Bill Tonita are facing UCP candidates Jordan Walker and Nate Glubish, who are both running for re-election for the first time.
It’s hard to find a riding anywhere in Alberta where the UCP appear to be on the offence, but a traditional swing riding like St. Albert could generate an interesting result. NDP candidate Marie Renaud is running for a third-term in office and is facing a challenge from UCP candidate Angela Wood, a past mayoral candidate who has received fundraising support from Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland UCP candidate Shane Getson and Central Peace-Notley candidate Todd Loewen.
Edmonton-South West was the only riding inside the Edmonton city limits to elect a UCP candidate in the 2019 election. This time, UCP candidate and co-deputy premier Kaycee Madu is facing a challenge from three-term public school trustee Nathan Ip for the NDP. Madu’s four years in office have not been without controversy. He made headlines in 2022 when it was revealed he personally phoned Edmonton police chief Dale McFee after getting a distracted driving ticket.
Edmonton-Castle Downs is not expected to flip blue in this election, but it’s on my watch list because NDP candidate Nicole Goehring has been a fairly low-profile opposition MLA and now faces a challenge from UCP candidate and former city councillor Jon Dziadyk.
The Wild Cards
Outside the two main cities and their environs, there are probably only a handful of ridings that could change hands from the UCP to the NDP in this election.
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