Smith eyes Alliance leadership

She is already being compared to Sarah Palin and is being treated like Alberta’s next great right-wing hope even though she hasn’t officially jumped into politics yet.

She is already being compared to Sarah Palin and is being treated like Alberta’s next great right-wing hope even though she hasn’t officially jumped into politics yet.

Danielle Smith says she is strongly considering a bid for the leadership of the Wildrose Alliance after resigning two weeks ago as director of the Alberta wing of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Smith quit the lobby group only days after Wildrose Leader Paul Hinman said he is stepping down because the party of disaffected conservatives needs a leader with more charisma to challenge the long-governing Alberta Tories.

Hinman has urged her to seek the job.

“The leadership of the Wildrose Alliance is very enticing for me,” Smith said in an interview posted on Stephen Taylor’s blog, a popular conservative sounding board.

“People are hoping for a new alternative that will be viable in the next election.”

The prospect of Smith, a smart, media-savvy Calgarian and former Fraser Institute researcher going against Premier Ed Stelmach is creating buzz in cyberspace — especially among Albertans who believe their provincial government is conservative in name only.

During her tenure at the CFIB, Smith, a former member of the Alberta Conservative party herself, was a critic of Stelmach’s spending record, which led to the province’s first deficit budget in 15 years.

She has also struck a chord with the energy industry by taking Stelmach to task over changes to Alberta’s royalty system that some people blame for hobbling small- and medium-sized drilling firms in the province.

Hinman said he expects a number of people will compete for his job; however, the Wildrose Alliance really only needs one serious contender, and he is excited about one of them.

“She (Smith) is an excellent candidate. I’ve met with her many times over the years,” said Hinman, who lost the party’s only seat in the 2008 election.

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