REGINA – When voters watch tonight’s Saskatchewan election results, they’ll be looking at one big race – who will be premier of the province – and 61 smaller races.
Keeping track of the results in every one of Saskatchewan’s electoral districts can be daunting, but there are a number of ridings that will likely tell the story of tonight.
Here are eight of them.
1. Regina Coronation Park: If the NDP bounces back this election, it’s going to come from retaking seats in the big cities. Before last election, they held Regina Coronation Park for 25 years. But Parks and Culture Minister Mark Dorcherty took it for the Sask. Party by 598 votes in 2011. He seeks re-election against Ted Jaleta, a well-known motivational speaker, coach and marathon runner. The NDP have been putting extra resources into taking this seat back – and if they can’t, it likely spells a long night for them.
2. Regina Pasqua: This riding in the city’s southwest is Regina’s new electoral district, and has no incumbent. Sask. Party candidate Muhammad Fiaz goes up against the NDP’s Heather McIntyre and Darrin Lamoureux, Liberal Party leader and brother of Manitoba MP Kevin Lamoureux. It would have gone to the Sask. Party by 15.4 per cent in the last election—but whether the NDP can win this seat might depend on how much of the vote Lamoureux receives.
3.Saskatoon Fairview: Most of Brad Wall’s cabinet are seeking re-election in safe seats, but Central Services Minister Jennifer Campeau won by just 247 votes over NDP MLA Andy Iwanchuk in 2011. But this riding has also new boundaries that benefit the NDP, and they have a strong candidate in Vicki Mowat, a university teacher and captain in the Canadian Forces Reserve.
4. Saskatoon Westview: Could an NDP leader lose their seat again? Dwain Lingenfelter lost in Regina Douglas Park last election, and Cam Broten seeks to avoid the same fate in Saskatoon Westview. This is a new riding (Broten was formerly MLA in Saskatoon Massey Place), but voters here favoured NDP candidates by just 5.9 per cent more than the Saskatchewan Party in 2011. If the NDP slip at all in Saskatoon, his seat would be in jeopardy. Broten faces David Buckingham, small businessman and former mayor of the nearby town of Borden.
5. Saskatoon University: One of Saskatoon’s two new ridings, the Sask. Party is running city councillor Eric Olauson, while the NDP candidate is labour relations officer Jennifer Bowes. The riding, centred around the University of Saskatchewan, contains a mix of university students and families, and voters here preferred Sask. Party candidates by 19.5 per cent more than the NDP in the 2011 election. If the NDP is going to significantly gain seats tonight, it needs to come from ridings like this one.
6. Moose Jaw Wakamow: The more southern of Moose Jaw’s two ridings, Sask. Party MLA Greg Lawrence won by just 201 votes last election. But redistribution has eliminated rural areas that used to be part of the ridings, and the NDP would have taken it narrowly last election with the new boundaries. Lawrence now faces Karen Purdy, nurse at the Moose Jaw Union Hospital and unit chair for Service Employees’ International Union
7. Prince Albert-Northcote Another seat outside the two big cities the NDP is optimistic in Prince Albert-Northcote, the northermost of Prince Albert’s two ridings. Former NDP MLA Darcy Furber lost to the Sask. Party’s Victoria Jurgens by just 191 votes last election. This time around, the NDP candidate is social worker Nicole Rancourt.
8. Cumberland: The NDP have never lost Cumberland, the province’s northeasternmost riding, but the Saskatchewan Party is hopeful for an upset this time around. Their candidate is Thomas Sierzycki, the popular two-term mayor of La Ronge, who was first elected at the age of 22. He faces the NDP’s Doyle Vermette, who has been MLA since 2008. If he can’t win a second full term in Cumberland, it’s hard to see how the NDP get more than 10 seats tonight.