It was a Wildrose Party win in the extremely close, nail-biting race in the Drumheller-Stettler riding on Monday night.
Wildrose candidate Rick Strankman beat out two-time incumbent Progressive Conservative Jack Hayden.
“This was a historical night in more than one way,” said Strankman, 58. “I’m very happy with what happened in our constituency. . . . It was an onerous task to go up against a thrice cabinet minister.”
As of 11 p.m., 83 out of 87 polls reported Strankman with 6,911 votes. Hayden had 6,144 votes. The Liberal candidate, Cam Roset, was sitting at 338 and the New Democrat Party candidate, Aditya Rao, had 387. Andrew Berdahl, the Alberta Party candidate, had 266 votes.
“I’m obviously disappointed but I’ve had a good run,” said Hayden, the former minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation. “I’ve had some amazing supporters over the years and honestly, on an evening like this I feel worse for them than for myself really.”
Hayden said he knew it was going to be a close race, as it felt like a different type of campaign this time — especially when it came to rural voters.
“I’m glad to see our party in such an overall strong position. Good solid management will now be required for the province and we can do that.”
Hayden said he’ll miss his colleagues but that he’s spent over 21 years in elected positions and is looking forward to a private life.
As for Strankman, who lives in Altario farming cattle and grain, he said he plans to fight for property rights and strive to get the government to re-evaluate their position on bills 19, 24, 36, 50.
“It’s almost surreal, winning,” he said. “I was hoping for a victory at the provincial level but I’m going to do my best to bring forward the wishes of the people.”