June 28, 2014 8:42 pm

Quiet Alberta NDP leadership race is all strategy: expert

WATCH ABOVE: One expert believes there’s a reason behind the Alberta NDP leadership candidates laying low. Eric Szeto has the story.

EDMONTON – With all the coverage of the Alberta PC leadership race, you’d be hard-pressed to know there’s another leadership race going on in the province.

Since late April, the Alberta NDP has been without a leader. And so far, only two people have thrown their hat into the race.

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“What’s surprising more than anything is there isn’t more than two leadership candidates,” says Bob Murray with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

“We’re not hearing any names being rumoured, nobody is really talking, which I think is somewhat dangerous to the party.”

Campaign events have also seemed few and far between. But one expert believes laying low might be part of the overall NDP strategy.

“The strategic calculation is very much that, the PCs are going to spend most of the summertime eating themselves alive, let them do that into their own convention and once the voting starts…at the PC convention in September, then the NDP can start to get the momentum,” Murray adds.

The two NDP candidates – Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley and Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen – disagree. Both say they will be campaigning around the province this summer.

Eggen’s co-chair says they’ve been getting grassroots support.

“The game plan has always been to talk about our issues and contrast us with what’s been happening with Conservatives,” says Anand Sharma.

“People are very unhappy with that party, and we’re now reaching out to Conservatives coming to us, former people who voted Conservative for the last 20-25 years, who are saying ‘enough is enough.'”

Notley adds that the PCs have had more time to campaign, and are playing for higher stakes.

“Of course whoever is the winner of the leadership of the PC race does become premier for however short a time. And so obviously there’s going to be a different type of interest in that,” she says.

NDP officials note there is still a month before nominations close.

According to recent polls, NDP support is highest in urban areas like Edmonton at 30 per cent. Support drops by half in Calgary and rural areas.

With files from Eric Szeto, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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