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Wildrose voting begins in search for replacement to Danielle Smith

The Wildrose Party will soon have a new leader as voting as begun for one of three hopefuls looking to replace Danielle Smith as leader of the Wildrose.

In the running are former Strathcona County Mayor Linda Osinchuk, former Member of Parliament Brian Jean and current MLA Drew Barnes.

“I think it’s very important for the party, they have three candidates, they’re having a leadership vote and they’re getting media attention and this is for a party that everybody had buried in mid-December,” said University of Calgary Political Science Professor David Stewart.

“I think in some ways, getting the party a little bit off life support had to do with the change to the economic situation as much as anything else,” he said. “And some of the more controversial measures that Conservatives may have to undertake to put us on a more fiscally sustainable basis.”

Stewart says the wide-range of experience the candidates bring is a good thing for the party.

“I don’t see a huge difference among the candidates, the last time they had a leadership race in 2009, it was pretty critical for the future of the party that one of the candidates won, I don’t see that kind of division this time, it will be interesting to see how many members participate in the leadership vote.”

Approximately 8,200 people showed up to vote during the last contest and with a party that’s boasting 24,000 members, he believes they’re going to need more than a third of their base to boast a viable showing.

“Expectations that Wildrose were dead may have been a little overblown because of the changing economic situation,” he said.