December 04, 2006


Done like Dinning, part 2

So what does this result mean for the two losing contenders?

The way I see it, there are four possibilties as to what Jim Dinning will do:
  1. Run for office in the next election, and serve as a loyal and productive member of Ed Stelmach's cabinet. (C'mon, stop laughing. Let me finish.)
  2. Join the Liberal Party (provincial or federal).
  3. Use whatever's left of his support in the PC party to undermine Stelmach's leadership and try to force him out ASAP, so Jim can take another shot at it.
  4. Go back to the corporate world, never to be heard from again.

Number one is isn't very likely for two main reasons. For starters, this is Jim Dinning we're talking about. I think it's pretty obvious to all but his most die-hard supporters that Jim was in the race simply because he wanted to sit in the big chair, period. Secondly, even if Jim was willing to be just another member of the team, his history as Ralph Klein's finance minister and second-in-command would make this very difficult. Any cabinet job other than Finance would be an insulting demotion, and if he did get Finance again, everything he did would be (unflatteringly) compared with how he handled it in the 90's.

Options two is possible, but not for a few years at least. Option three is somewhat likely, and could be attempted whether or not Dinning runs for a seat in the Legislature.

Still, I think that number four is our best bet. Dinning's brand has just been too badly damaged by this loss. Not to push my favourite comparison again, but Paul Martin is considered a political loser today because he won a single minority government and then lost the follow-up election, instead of getting the massive 200 seat landslide he was expected to. Can you imagine how much more of a loser he'd be if he had ended up losing the 2003 leadership race to Sheila Copps? Well, that's essentially what Dinning did.

What about Ted Morton? His situation is quite different. Unlike Dinning, he's in the Alberta Conservatives because he has policy ideas that he wants to see implemented. This means that he will most likely be happy to serve in a Stelmach cabinet in a position where he can make a difference, and Ed would be wise to give Ted a prominent role in shaping the direction of his government. This is not just because it's good political manners to give your leadership rivals prominent placement, but because it's the best way to ensure a Stelmach victory in the next general election (more on that in a future post).

As a side note, I suspect that had Dinning won, he would have adopted the Paul Martin scorched-earch tactic towards his rival. Not only would he have left Morton out of Cabinet, he would have done everything possible to marginalize him within the party, up to and including sending in his minions to oust Morton at his next nomination meeting in Foothills-Rocky View.

PS- I apologize to Ed Stelmach if I inadvertently compared him to Sheila Copps. :)

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