Wildrose Party wins the second-quarter fund-raising horserace – but can the pace be sustained?

Posted on July 17, 2016, 2:47 am
8 mins

PHOTOS: Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean has every right to smile about the party’s second-quarter fund-raising results. The question is: Can they be sustained? (Photo grabbed from Wildrose.ca.) Below: Results for all parties, as compiled by your blogger from Elections Alberta’s confusing website. There’s a link to a readable version in the first paragraph. Any errors are likely mine, not theirs. Below that: PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney and PC Party President Katherine O’Neill. Bottom: The only slightly misleading Wildrose info-graphic.

The Wildrose Party has every right to brag about the second-quarter fund-raising numbers just published by Elections Alberta. They’re a triumph – if not quite the triumph the party’s social media info-graphic makes them appear to be.

If Wildrose Leader Brian Jean wants to crow about this, he’s entitled.

CHARTJPGBut the important question, which I’m sure the Opposition party’s key strategists are worrying about, is this: Are they a sustainable triumph?

The Wildrose info-graphic made it appear as if political fund-raising in Alberta was simply a race between the Wildrose Party and the Alberta NDP, and the Wildrose is winning.

Insofar as it goes, that’s basically true … although the NDP is doing pretty well too.

The Wildrose Party raised $467,131.13 in the second quarter ended June 30, compared with $362,824.62 for the governing New Democrats and a shockingly low $27,376.00 for the Progressive Conservatives, who ran the place for almost 44 years until May 2015.

Figures for the year to date, showed a similar pattern: Wildrose, $916,043.84; NDP, $761,668.33; PCs, $132,812.47.

kenney-l-f-jpg_0_0These fund-raising results reflect the ban on corporate and union donations brought in by the new NDP government just over a year ago, in June 2015. The PCs had relied on corporate bagmen too long, and don’t yet seem to have developed the skills both the NDP and Wildrosers have honed to generate lots of cash from small, individual donors.

The thing is, though, that just as we moved from the second quarter to the third on June 30, Alberta politics in general and the politics of Alberta’s right in particular were on the cusp of significant change that could have a dramatic impact on all parties’ fund-raising.

For the Wildrose, it’s said here, those changes are unlikely to be positive, at least in the sense of the fund-raising horserace

The biggest change, obviously, is the arrival of federal Conservative and provincial Wildroser Jason Kenney as a participant in the race to lead the Progressive Conservatives.

If Mr. Kenney’s campaign isn’t actually breaking Elections Alberta’s fund-raising rules by raising money for a leadership campaign that hasn’t officially started yet, it’s certainly sailing close to the wind.

But the question the Wildrosers must be asking themselves is if Mr. Kenney will be going to the same donors they rely on, and at what point are those donors going to either be tapped out or reluctant to donate to a party that can’t transfer their money to the new political entity Mr. Kenney and his backers hope to create?

OneilSome of the money donated to Mr. Kenney’s pre-campaign campaign, of course, will come anonymously from corporate sources – but, again, being tapped out may be a factor here too if, as some observers suspect, corporate donations to the Wildrose Party are being laundered through individual company employees.

Moreover, since anger and fear are both big motivators of individual political donations, and because the NDP’s supporters are mostly not angry and not yet frightened about what the future may hold, this suggests there will be an increase in donations to Premier Rachel Notley’s governing party as the next election gets closer.

If this happens at the same time as donations to the Wildrose Party decline for the reasons speculated upon here, positions in the fund-raising horserace could change.

Finally, there is the matter of fund-raising by the other parties with seats in the Legislature, which was pretty well ignored in what little coverage of this there has been so far.

Alberta Party donations actually fell marginally in the second quarter from the first. This may be a reflection of the party’s hard-to-understand decision not to contest the Calgary-Greenway by-election required to replace PC MLA Manmeet Bhullar, who was killed in a highway traffic accident in the fall. The PCs retained the seat.

FundRaisingThe Alberta Party posted second-quarter donations of $16,314.88 and year-to-date donations of $34,269.73. So you could also make a case the difference is so small it’s meaningless.

Alberta Liberal Party donations, however, grew dramatically, $57,561.04 in the second quarter and $86,804.04 for the year to date. In other words, the Liberals raised only $29,243 in the first quarter. If they can continue that trend in future quarters, they will give the NDP something else to worry about.

So it was a little misleading for the Wildrosers to leave the Liberal total out of their chart, but it’s really up to the Liberals, the media and the blogosphere to correct that oversight.

One other oddity about these numbers catches the eye, and that is the apparent disparity between recent PC membership activity and the party’s low fund-raising numbers.

According to a Tweet last Wednesday by PC Party President Katherine O’Neill, the party is doing pretty well all things considering with party memberships. OK, the 287 she said were sold this month, along with another 187 renewed, could have been the result of interest in the party’s leadership race, and perhaps support for one candidate by people disinclined to donate to the party directly for that very reason.

But what about the 2,800 memberships she says were sold in February 2016? Surely that membership increase should have had a bigger impact on the number of donations coming to the party. Perhaps it did, of course, in the first quarter, when the PCs raised $105,436. Or maybe some of it flowed directly to PC ridings, which seem to have quite a bit of cash in hand.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

11 Comments to: Wildrose Party wins the second-quarter fund-raising horserace – but can the pace be sustained?

  1. Adam

    July 17th, 2016

    Needless to say, I actually have no clue, but is the renewed interest in the Liberal Party more a reflection of collapsing support for the PCs than of Knee-dip weakness?

    Other parties in Alberta come, go, appear out of nowhere or vanish into the mist, but there seems always to be a place for the Alberta Liberals. Times change, oil prices rise and fall, but it is rare, I think, that at least one MLA in the legislature is not a member of the Liberal Party.

  2. July 17th, 2016

    The PC leadership race will certainly attract donations but to candidates not to the party. I assume donations to a leadership candidate would not show up in the party figures (considering that the party can’t use the money). This will probably skew the numbers further away from the PC toward the Wildrose.

    It’s been claimed that if there is a party merger of some sort, the assets cannot be transferred. However, in BC provincial politics there was at least one example I’m aware of in the past few years where one political party donated all of its money to another political party, and this was within the rules. You’re probably more knowledgeable about whether that would also be allowed in Alberta. However, I kind of doubt there would be a rule against it simply because it happens so rarely.

    • pogo

      July 17th, 2016

      I’m so relieved to find out that it’s possible for Progressive conservatives to give up not only the ghost but their money to some carpet bagging interloper. Yay democracy!

  3. Athabascan

    July 17th, 2016

    Where are the non-white, non-old stock, non-male, under 50s people at this rally?

  4. 9 sided

    July 17th, 2016

    I attribute this to the WRP having the lake of fire types in their base. Nobody is better at draining the bank accounts of the elderly than those people. Nothing against the evangelicals personally. As they say, love the sinner but hate the sin.

  5. TENET

    July 17th, 2016

    No matter how much money there is in the WRP coffers, they remain morally bankrupt.

  6. Steve

    July 18th, 2016

    Shows you again that Alberta hasn’t “changed”. People yearn for a strong and principled right wing government!

    • Athabascan

      July 18th, 2016

      Oh, yeah?

      Which Alberta would that be? Do you mean the old, white, old-stock, cranky males? Thankfully, that minority is dwindling by the day. Not much future in old people.

  7. Sam Gunsch

    July 18th, 2016

    With this low rate of PC fundraising, does it seem reasonable that any of the relatively low-profile possible PC candidates can fundraise sufficiently to the same base of PC supporters to have the resources to help them organize to beat Kenney?

    And unless the PCs can by some miracle triple or quadruple their fundraising rate immediately, Kenny will win leadership of a financially destitute PC party in spring 2017…adding to the argument that PCs should throw in the towel to become part of a new conservative party or merge under/into WRP… no?

    In either event, it seems AB would end up with a full-blooded Canadian version of TeaParty-tinged Republicans facing off against NDP (and Libs) in electoral competition for the decisive Calgary ridings in 2019.

    I’m assuming here of course that rural AB goes full WRP. And NDP can hold core seats in Edm in 2019.

    So Calgary, as a number of observers have flagged, will be the 2019 battleground…and…Does a climate plan with carbon tax to get social license for pipelines, and one or two pipelines approved, infrastructure spending, and $15 wage, hold enough of Calgary for the NDP?

  8. jerrymacgp

    July 18th, 2016

    Remember, as shown in the table, a significant portion of the PCs’ fundraising goes to Constuency Associations, not to the central party. Other parties’ structures differ, which makes the numbers less comparable. For example, the NDP runs all of its fundraising through the central party, and then distributes funds to its Constituency Associations using a revenue-sharing model. I don’t know enough about either the Liberal or Wildrose Parties’ internal structure to comment on how they handle this, but suffice it to say they are undoubtedly somewhat different.

    • David Climenhaga

      July 18th, 2016

      Jerry is quite right about this, although the third column in the chart I created from Elections Alberta’s figures is supposed to reflect that. That’s why the PC tally is so much bigger in that category, when everyone else’s is about the same. That said, the difference is smaller than I expected, which is interesting, although not conclusive evidence of anything in particular without more information.


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