Dan Backs was elected to his first term in office in 2004, but the former Liberal MLA is seeking re-election as an independent in Edmonton-Manning after being kicked out of caucus in 2006, then losing the Tory nomination later this year.
“Right now I’ve got a lot of people saying, ‘I’m supporting the Independent Party cause I don’t like the other parties,’ which is funny, because there’s no Independent Party,”
Backs said with a chuckle. “There’s a bit of a none-of-the-above feeling going on in Edmonton-Manning for the party candidates.”
Neither Backs nor the Liberals have ever specified why he left the party, but the race is expected to be a tough one as the right-leaning Backs could maintain the support of his former Liberal constituents while splitting the vote with the Tories.
However, Liberal candidate Sandeep Dhir speculated that Backs will have little effect on his campaign.
“I’m essentially running against three conservative candidates, right? You’ve got the PC candidate, you’ve got the Wildrose candidate and you’ve got Dan Backs — who ran for the PC nomination and lost,” the 36-year-old lawyer said. “I don’t actually think he’s going to be a factor in the election. And if he is taking votes, I suspect that he’s going to be taking Conservative votes.”
Backs beat Tory incumbent Tony Vandermeer by a slim margin in 2004, but Dhir explained that the riding has grown since the last election and said that support may have shifted.
“(The riding) has grown by approximately 30 per cent — there’s entire new subdivisions, there’s literally thousands of new voters in the riding,” Dhir said. “I think it will be interesting to see how that plays out in the election.”
The other candidates running in the March 3 provincial election are New Democrat candidate Rick Murti, Tory candidate Peter Sandhu and Wildrose Alliance candidate Phil Gamache.