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Defeated candidates reflect on election

All four said campaign was run fairly and clean

May 01, 2012 06:00 am | Tim Bryant

After watching Progressive Conservative candidate Maureen Kubinec eke out a victory in the April 23 election by 341 votes, residents in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock should expect to keep seeing her in the news.

However, the four candidates who were not so successful will likely fade out of public consciousness.

But before that happens, they spoke about their thoughts on the result of the election both in the riding and across the province.

Wildrose candidate, and runner-up, Link Byfield took one big lesson out of how the election played out. “I guess we should all learn not to believe pollsters,” he said, after witnessing his party’s projected win disappear.

In particular, he was flabbergasted at how the riding voted.

“I think we were surprised in our riding,” he said. “I thought we were going to take it, and we missed by two per cent.”

Yet, despite coming up short, the margin of defeat brings with it some optimism. “The fact that a party that had never run in the riding, and had barely existed four years earlier, would take almost half the vote, that surely says something,” Byfield said. “People are obviously dissatisfied with the government.”

He went on to say that the total number of votes Wildrose received, even though those did not translate into as many seats as hoped, shows how conservative a province Alberta is.

“It really is a conservative province,” he said. “You could exaggerate how conservative it is, but it is a conservative province, and Alison Redford is a liberal premier in every sense of the word.”

Third place candidate, the NDP’s Trudy Grebenstein, admitted she never thought she would win. However, she knew it was her duty to run and carry the party banner.

“I have always believed that people who believe in the NDP platform need to have a place to put their vote,” she said.

She added that she felt both frontrunners — Kubinec and Byfield — fought a hard, close race, and that the closeness of it spoke to how much Albertans are undecided about where they want their province to head.

As for the polls predicting a Wildrose win, Grebenstein said she thinks events from the last weeks of the campaign caused voters to turn back to the PCs.

Looking to the future, she said four years is a long time, but she can see herself once again hitting the campaign trail.

“I really enjoyed being a candidate in the riding … and I’m hoping to be back again to talk to voters … about the NDP,” she said.

The Liberals’ Leslie Penny finished fourth with 929 votes, a number not quite in keeping from her previous run in 2008.

“I was disappointed that the number of votes I received went down from the last election,” she said.

However, when compared to the overall voting numbers, she said she couldn’t complain.

“I think the big thing is that people did get out to vote,” she said. “We did have more people voting.”

Penny added that she was proud to have been a part of the campaign, especially with how free of mudslinging it was in the riding.

“I felt that the five of us who ran in this constituency ran a very polite, civil campaign with none of the name calling and such things that are sometimes characteristic of other situations,” she said.

The one thing she was most pleased with was that Liberal leader Raj Sherman was reelected, along with four other Liberal MLAs.

Finally, fifth-place candidate Lisa Grant of the EverGreen Party said she was resigned to the outcome.

“It’s probably not the ideal result, but it was probably better than the alternative,” she said.

Grant added she and others were surprised with the final seat counts, since the pre-election polls were all pointing to a Wildrose win.

However, she figured it was probably the controversies surrounding Ron Leech and Allan Hunsperger that ultimately pushed people to reelect the PCs.


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