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Can the UCP win in Lethbridge? U of L prof weighs in

Can the UCP win in Lethbridge? U of L prof weighs in
WATCH: The main reason behind uniting the right in Alberta is to combine Wildrose and PC votes and ultimately defeat the NDP in 2019. But one U of L professor says that's no guarantee, especially in the two Lethbridge ridings. Joe Scarpelli reports.

University of Lethbridge professor Trevor Harrison says he expected the Alberta PC and Wildrose parties to successfully merge, but what he’s not expecting is a guaranteed win for the new United Conservative Party.

READ MORE: A new day in Alberta politics as United Conservative Party emerges

“I think it is actually one of those mistakes in calculation that kind of has embedded in this merger: the idea that just additively, you put together those votes and magically you come up with somebody else winning,” Harrison said.

This is especially the case in Lethbridge, where in 2015, both NDP MLAs won with more votes than the Wildrose and PC candidates combined.

Harrison believes this is due to different demographics of Lethbridge compared to other parts of southern Alberta.

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“Places that have a university and/or college, and Lethbridge has both, tend to be a little more liberal,” Harrison said. “Lethbridge has also experienced a real influx of new people coming in over the last 20 years.”

READ MORE: United Conservative Party becomes official opposition, selects caucus leadership team

Former PC MLA for Lethbridge-West Greg Weadick says he supports the merger, but doesn’t plan on putting his name forward to become the local candidate for the new UCP.

“I’m really looking forward to stepping into the background and continuing to work and support a sound, centred, right conservative party,” Weadick said.

Former Lethbridge-West Wildrose candidate Ron Bain also supports the merger, but says he’ll only put his name forward if the new party supports his values, including protecting the environment and jobs.

“You want to make sure that you stay true to your moral compass. I think that’s important these days in politics,” Bain said.

READ MORE: UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean reveals platform

Harrison says Lethbridge’s two UCP candidates should be well-known members of the community.

“When a voter goes into the booth to cast their ballot, they’re thinking both about the party — they’re thinking about the leader overall — but they’re saying, ‘Well, I know so-and-so and I really like that person; I trust them,'” Harrison said.

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2015 PC candidate for Lethbrdge-East Tammy Perlich declined to comment on Tuesday, while Global News was not able to reach former Wildrose candidate Kent Prestage.