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Two announce bid for Wildrose Alliance leadership
The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, June 7, 2009 12:20PM MDT
A chiropractor and a former lobbyist have thrown their hats into the race for the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance party.
Danielle Smith, 38, and Mark Dyrholm, both of Calgary, made their intentions known Saturday at the annual general meeting of the upstart right-wing party.
Jeff Callaway, president of the party, said Dyrholm, a chiropractor, has long been involved in politics, including the federal Reform and Conservative parties and the provincial Tories.
Smith was the former Alberta director for the Canadian Federation of Business and established and ran the Alberta Property Rights Initiative, said Callaway.
A leader will be chosen on Oct. 17 in Edmonton.
Smith is seen as a contender with urban appeal for a party that needs to break through in the cities if it hopes to capitalize on discontent with Premier Ed Stelmach's governing Progressive Conservatives.
Leader Paul Hinman officially announced his resignation Friday at the meeting. He held the party's lone seat in the legislature, but lost it in the spring 2008 vote. The party polled seven per cent in that election.
"After the election last year we were obviously disappointed with not getting any seats," Callaway said.
"The party itself was very demoralized with the election result and the PCs doing so well, but we really pulled up our socks starting at the AGM last year..."
Callaway said the party, whose members he describes as "fiscal conservatives" and "social moderates", has made good strides since then.
Membership has tripled -- he won't disclose numbers, but says they have "well into the four digits" -- and fundraising continues to be strong, into the six digits.
There were 220 people at the meeting Saturday -- last year just over 100 attended, he said.
"We are building to be a viable alternative for Albertans come next election... we are very much gathering momentum and gaining traction with Albertans."