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Dispatches from the front lines of Alberta politics

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Alberta Liberal leadership candidate Raj Sherman

The Liberal race grows closer?

With the Alberta Liberal leadership vote now under way online and due to be counted Saturday, and the Conservative first ballot a mere 10 days away, both races are starting to heat up, with some interesting developments on the front line.

Former Conservative Dr. Raj Sherman, who some reports said has signed 18,000 supporters, has seemed a cinch to win the Liberal race since party officials threw it wide open, U.S. primary style.

Nevertheless, Sherman was doing everything in his power today to persuade supporters to actually get out and vote. In a series of urgent tweets, he warned them that "our campaign is in TROUBLE, Our Vote is not coming out." Shades of Ryan Hastman, the Tory candidate who tried a similar technique in the days before he was beaten in the federal election by Edmonton Strathcona MP Linda Duncan.

Another tweet suggested 2,000 Sherman backers had failed to get the PIN they needed to vote, and begged them to vote in person on Saturday.

Meanwhile, candidate Hugh MacDonald has been grumpily telling reporters that Sherman's victory is not the sure thing the punditocracy has declared it to be, noting that political success follows funds raised more than members signed. And, indeed, he has raised $50,780 compared with Sherman's $36,672.

In the last few days, MacDonald has been busy phoning many of Sherman's supporters, presumably to check if any of them answer from the grave or can only say meow.

Good news, bad news for Ted Morton?

The Edmonton Journal last night reported that right-wing Conservative candidate Ted Morton, who released a list of his contributors today, has raised over $1 million in donations.

The timing of the revelation by the Morton camp was interesting, coming the night before the putative release of a negative story about the former finance minister by the CBC.

CBC investigative reporter Charles Rusnell (@charlesrusnell), who was unsuccessfully dogging Morton's footsteps at last Thursday's Conservative leadership forum in Red Deer, tweeted this last night: "What's Ted Morton got to hide? Find out on CBC radio YEG @ 7:12 a.m Thurs; YYC @ 8:10; Online @ cbc.ca/edmonton + CBC TV @5/6."

Rusnell won't say what the story's about. A little bird of the variety that doesn't tweet says one word: "Emails."

A rocket for Danielle Smith

Speaking of emails, a former Wildrose staffer who says she was responsible for handling membership lists has emailed a plea to current Wildrose supporters to back right-wing Conservative candidate Rick Orman instead of her former boss Danielle Smith, whom she accuses of "lusting for power."

Citing a recent Calgary Herald story about defections from Wildrose back to the Tories, the emailer accuses Smith and her inner circle of "true contempt for the grassroots of the Wildrose Party," falling attendance at party events and sinking contributions. "The level of disrespect that has been shown to your hard-earned and generously given contribution dollars by Danielle and company were a significant part of why I chose to leave the Wildrose Party," the letter states.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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