Alleged death threats, implied bribes, constituency association ambushes and supposed Progressive Conservative Party skulduggery.
A Wildrose nomination race in the Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre riding held by MLA Joe Anglin has all of the above, according to the sitting candidate.
The firebrand politician held little back on Wednesday as he pledged his determination to defend his seat against an 11th-hour challenge from his own constituency president, Jason Nixon.
Anglin said the behind-the-scenes intrigues are bordering on the “silly.”
He filed a complaint with Calgary police after claiming he received a cellphone death threat on June 4 to step down or else.
Calgary Police Services were not able to confirm they had a file open on the incident on Wednesday.
In a further bizarre twist a few days later, Anglin said a senior Wildrose party player offered him “in essence a bribe” a job with the Alberta Electric System Operator, Alberta Energy Regulator or the Alberta Surface Rights Board in return for stepping down.
“I absolutely just tossed him out of my office. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It’s like ‘Go away.’
“The fact that a staffer tried to do this told me there are some inside jobs going on with some of these people that is wrong for our party,” he said.
Anglin said he does not believe Wildrose leader Danielle Smith is connected in any way with the back-room antics going on in the party. In fact, he’s positive she would not approve.
He avoided going public until the party’s executive committee ruled on a challenge he launched against Nixon’s nomination. The committee sided with Nixon after meeting on Tuesday night.
Anglin claims that a constituency board member must step down before filing their nomination papers.
“(Nixon) didn’t do that. He hid in the bushes, so to speak, and he popped out at the last minute and I didn’t see him coming.
“Good on him, he’s an opportunist. It’s a good move if you want to sneak up on somebody, but he didn’t follow the rules.”
Anglin said he accepts the findings of the committee but is not satisfied.
“I do not agree with them. I think they’ve gone off the rails.”
Anglin believes Progressive Conservative supporters are at least partly behind the surprise nomination race. Longtime PC supporters bought memberships in Wildrose to try to unseat a sitting MLA because they know he would win in a provincial election, he believes.
“That’s what’s going on here. This is a power play. (It’s) not from the fact that I’m doing a poor job. I’m doing too good a job and the PCs would love to see me go.”
Anglin got a few PC noses out of joint in April when he announced $13.3 million in funding for a new seniors lodge, ahead of the provincial government’s official release.
Anglin said he will stand on his record in his nomination battle. No MLA has done more to represent their constituents, he added.
“I still like the fact I made my bones on being blunt and truthful and if I get voted out on being blunt and truthful, so be it. It’s called integrity and I’m going to live and die on it.”
He admits some of his caucus members are not happy that he’s airing his party grievances in public.
“But I’ve got to set out the difference between me and my opponent. The only way I know to do that is to bring it out in the public.
“Unfortunately, it is about airing party laundry because the party’s fallen off the rails.”
Nixon would not go into specifics about the nomination process because of party rules, but said he did nothing wrong.
“What I will say is I am still on the ballot. I’m an accepted candidate by the party,” he said.
“I do not believe I broke any rules.”
Nixon dismissed suggestions of PC Party influence in the nomination race.
“I’m running, first of all, because hundreds of people within my constituency urged me to put my name forward and seek the nomination.
“That amazing amount of grassroots support for an alternative compelled me to run for the nomination and provide our membership — and I mean Wildrose membership not PC membership — with a choice.”
Nixon said he’s been active in the party for the past five years and his top priority is for Wildrose to form the next government.
It was clear to him that the “mass frustration” with Anglin he’d seen while campaigning would see the riding revert to the PCs in the next election.
Wildrose remains strong and is the party most fit to govern, he said.
“To me, the Wildrose is the best alternative to the PCs. That’s why I’m here. I have no concerns with the party at all.”
The nomination vote is expected to take place next week.