Campaigning is underway to woo voters in the constituency of Calgary-Lougheed after a Dec. 14 byelection was announced last week to replace United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA Dave Rodney. Rodney stepped aside on Nov. 1 to allow newly-elected UCP leader Jason Kenney the opportunity to run for a seat in the Alberta legislature.
Since its creation in 1993, Calgary-Lougheed has always been held by the Progressive Conservatives (PC). Jim Dinning was the constituency’s first MLA. Starting in 1997, Marlene Graham carried the PC banner for two elections, winning handily both times.
In 2004, Rodney ran his first campaign scoring his largest share of votes over the course of four elections in the constituency. But as the Wildrose Party emerged as a dividing force for conservatives, Rodney’s share of the vote eroded with each consecutive election.
READ MORE: December byelection to determine if Jason Kenney sits in Alberta legislature
In 2008, Rodney won with 52.5 per cent of the votes while Wildrose competitor Derrick Jacobson walked away with 11.8 per cent of the ballots.
The Wildrose gained ground in 2012 with their best performance in Calgary-Lougheed as John Carpay netted 38.3 per cent of the votes. Rodney still retained his seat with 50.2 per cent. The combined share of votes for the two right-of-centre parties equalled 88.6 per cent.
In 2015, the Alberta PC party had its weakest showing in the constituency as Rodney squeaked out a 34.9 per cent share of the votes, while Wildrose candidate Mark Mantei secured 28.1 per cent. The combined vote for the two conservative parties was 63.1 per cent.
Federally, Calgary-Lougheed resides inside the riding of Calgary-Heritage (formerly Calgary-Southwest). It had been a long-time stronghold for Preston Manning and Stephen Harper. Conservative Bob Benzen is the current Member of Parliament.
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Municipally, the constituency resides inside Ward 13, a territory long held by fiscal conservative Diane Colley-Urquhart. The city councillor made a run at provincial politics representing the PC party in the 2009 Calgary-Glenmore byelection. She placed third with Wildrose candidate Paul Hinman winning the seat.
Notably, Ward 13 was one of two city wards during the 2017 Calgary municipal election where more votes were cast for mayoral candidate Bill Smith than for incumbent mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Demographically, Calgary-Lougheed is a young, educated, and well-heeled constituency. Comprised of the communities of Bridlewood, Evergreen Woodbine and Woodlands, the average of the median age across the four communities is 37. The average of the median annual incomes in the neighbourhoods is just shy of $99,000.
Twenty-seven per cent of Calgary-Lougheed residents are of a visible minority. Three per cent of residents are aboriginal. Thirty per cent have immigrated to Canada.
Sixty-four per cent of constituents have completed some form of post-secondary education.
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Three candidates have put their names forward for the seat. Kenney, Alberta Liberal Party leader David Khan and NDP candidate Phillip van der Merwe are all pining to be the next MLA.
The Alberta Party board of directors said Tuesday it made a difficult decision not to field a candidate.
“With Greg Clark’s announcement to step down and trigger a leadership election, we wish to direct all available party resources towards running a dynamic and successful leadership election,” reads a statement from the party.
“With the need to direct our financial and human resources to this leadership race and with the race in Calgary-Lougheed considered to be a foregone conclusion, it is best that we have a successful and well-executed leadership that will have a major impact on the Alberta Party’s long-term success.”
With a file from Global’s Erika Tucker