On Saturday, June 9, I headed down to Drumheller-Stettler to support Tom Dooley, Alberta Liberal candidate for today's by-election. Tom is a stand-up guy; he's already a committed public servant, and a very warm, approachable, caring person. Rural Alberta is still pretty hostile territory for Liberals of any stripe, but Tom ran a great campaign and people in the riding have responded very positively to his genuine manner. Polls close in a few minutes, so we'll see to what degree his work - and the work of the dozens of volunteers who came out to help his campaign - has paid off.
The last time I campaigned for a candidate was back in 1986; I volunteered for Don Sparrow, the PC candidate for Leduc. (I was 17, and hadn't yet realized that conservative values are not my values.) It was a very different experience this time around, campaigning from the opposition side, and particularly in Stettler, where conservatism is, according to conventional wisdom, king. No one spat in my face, but there were a few pretty coolly polite responses.
On the other hand, there was certainly an undercurrent of discontent with the current government, and I found more Alberta Liberal voters than I thought I would. So perhaps the political ground is shifting. (We'll find out shortly.)
At one house, a huge dog, as tall as I was, leapt onto me, paws on my shoulders, tongue in my face. But, surprising myself, I was able to continue my schpiel. Dogs of that size usually scare the jeepers out of me, but somehow I managed to step outside and away from those emotions and focus on the job at hand.
It felt like a positive step. Of course, I did wind up with a pretty swollen right eye, thanks to my allergies. (A couple of fellow volunteers worried that perhaps someone had punched me.)
7:57 - time to see if Tom (and Craig Cheffins, our candidate in Calgary-Elbow) will be joining us in the Legislature.
UPDATE: Well, with 71 of 71 polls reporting, it looks like the PC's Jack Hayden has emerged victorious, with 58% of the vote; Tom placed second, with 14%.
FURTHER UPDATE: On the bright side, it looks like Mr. Cheffins has won in Calgary-Elbow, with 75 of 77 polls reporting; he's leading 45% to 38%. Considering this is former Premier Klein's old riding, that's a pretty satisfying result.