Watch above: What’s next for the Alberta PCs after sweeping the Alberta byelections?
CALGARY – The Progressive Conservatives have swept the Alberta byelections, winning all four seats that were up for grabs Monday.
Premier Jim Prentice won a seat in Calgary-Foothills, Health Minister Stephen Mandel took Edmonton-Whitemud, PC candidate Mike Ellis won in Calgary-West and Education Minister Gordon Dirks made it four, winning Calgary-Elbow.
It’s a huge turnaround for a party that only months ago was in disarray — lost in a culture of entitlement, according to its critics — so much so that some wondered if the damage was irreparable.
But along came Jim Prentice, a Calgarian with political experience at the federal level.
After winning the PC leadership race, Prentice immediately went to work – making a series of announcements that apparently struck a positive chord with Albertans.
READ MORE: Prentice wins seat in Calgary-Foothills
In his victory speech Monday night, Prentice said Albertans believe in a “strong, positive and optimistic future.”
He said the job of rebuilding faith in his party isn’t over yet.
“We are going to restore trust in Albertans, and we will move forward with optimism and enthusiasm,” said Prentice.
By contrast, it was a shutout and stunning defeat for the Wildrose and its leader, Danielle Smith.
“It [the byelections] didn’t turn out quite as we hoped.”
“But we showed we’re the clear alternative,” Smith told supporters.
Throughout the campaign, Wildrose urged Albertans to “send the PCs a message,” saying “it’s time to put the service back in public service.”
It was the party’s main theme in a series of ads that ran in the final days of the month-long campaign.
But after the results were known, Smith said it’s clear the message Albertans delivered is that they’re willing to give the PCs “one last chance.. but not a blank cheque.”
Watch below: Wildrose leader Danielle Smith addresses party supporters
The Wildrose leader noted the PCs share of the vote dropped in the byelections.
Overall, in all four ridings, the Wildrose came out with 28 per cent of the vote.
Mount Royal University political analyst Duane Bratt said the message was blunt.
Wildrose: “Send the PCs a message.” Voters: “We like Prentice and are willing to give him a chance.”
— Duane Bratt (@DuaneBratt) October 28, 2014
Watch below: Wildrose party suffers defeat in Alberta byelections
In two of the four races, Wildrose finished second.
But in Calgary-Elbow, the Alberta Party, represented by its leader Greg Clark, finished a strong second with Wildrose candidate John Fletcher placing third.
READ MORE: Gordon Dirks wins for PCs in Calgary-Elbow
In Calgary-West, PC candidate Mike Ellis initially found himself in a neck-and-neck battle with his Wildrose opponent, but managed to pull away for their victory.
READ MORE: PC candidate Mike Ellis wins Calgary-West
The NDP made a strong showing in only one riding, Edmonton-Whitemud, but still finished well behind former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel.
Mandel, and Gordon Dirks in Calgary, were controversial candidates – mainly because they were given high-profile ministerial positions – health and education respectively – despite being unelected.
Premier Prentice and Wildrose leader Smith will both appear on Global Calgary and Global Edmonton’s Morning News Tuesday.
Follow our live coverage of the byelections below:
For more coverage of the Alberta byelections, visit Global News’ Alberta byelections website.