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Rick Orman ... who? ... is about to join Alberta Tory leadership race!

Brace yourselves ... Rick Orman is about to join the race for the Alberta Conservative leadership! In fact, if you believe the blogosphere and last week's political newsletters, he already has!

(Beat...)

Rick who?

Rick Orman. You know, the Rick Orman who was energy minister under premier Don Getty!

Premier Don who?

C'mon, you remember, the Rick Orman who was one of the big names in the leadership race against Ralph Klein!

Ralph Klein? Now that name rings a bell... Wasn't he a NASCAR driver?

You know, Rick Orman, the Conservative guy with the scratchy voice on the CKUA political panel...

CKU... what?

You know, the little radio station with real disk jockeys that Ralph Klein tried to shut down... Oh, I get it. You're having a little fun with me, aren't you?

+ + +

OK, people, enough levity.

What exactly does Rick Orman bring to the Conservative leadership race, if indeed he's going to join it tomorrow, as has been reported by the Calgary Herald, or has already joined it, as has been reported by daveberta.ca, various tweets and the legislative smoke machine?

Well, he's from Calgary, so that makes him different from … the Dougs -- Horner, that is, who is from the Edmonton area, and Griffiths, from the thriving metropolis of Hardisty.

And he's 62, so that means former finance minister Ted "Freddy Lee" Morton won't be the oldest guy in the race any more. Freddy Lee is 61.

And, let's see, he's an oilpatch guy, so he'd never do anything to upset the oilpatch... which, come to think of it, is not exactly unique.

And, uh, other than that, this means ... there are now six candidates in the race to replace Premier Ed Stelmach!

Most, like former justice minister Alison Redford, former Klein-era minister of everything Gary Mar, former finance minister Morton and former deputy premier Horner are serious candidates with significant funding and enough supporters to have a chance.

The only other one so far, Griffiths, is probably in it for the profile, and the chance to be a king (or queen) maker. But, who knows, maybe he'll surprise us.

There are -- or were -- at least four other rumoured candidates: Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett, and Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky, all of whom seem to be hanging on to their cabinet posts and profiles as long as they decently can, and maybe even a little longer. Plus Eric Young, a former president of the Progressive Conservative party.

However, Young shows up in a tweet as the Edmonton chair of Orman's announced-but-not-yet-officially-announced campaign. So I guess he's out. Hell, if a tweet isn't authoritative, what is?

We can authoritatively report that Orman -- or someone -- has purchased the domain names rickorman.ca and rickorman.com. However, nothing's been posted on them, especially a photo. He seems to have a Facebook account but there's no picture there either. Twitter? Two egg-shaped entities calling themselves Bumper15 and Rorman15 claim to belong to someone named Rick Orman.

The only photo that looks remotely like the Rick Orman we used to know is posted above a Calgary Herald story. But for that, this guy would be the Invisible Man of Alberta politics!

All of which makes Orman ... something. And he's trying to achieve ... something. OK, let's just put that one in the parking lot for a minute.

Philosophically speaking, all of the candidates except Morton seem like they're in the Conservative Party's squishy middle. Morton, of course, is on the party's loony right -- although these days he's trying to define himself as new convert to the squishy middle, which is funny seeing as the Orange Wave bypassed this province. Maybe those cagey Tories know something we don't!

So that puts Orman ... somewhere.

And if Mar is the frontrunner, and Redford is the brainiest, and Morton is the best loved by the powerful far right, and Horner is the most moderate, and Griffiths is the youngest, that makes Orman ... something.

Actually, I'll tell you what that makes him, for the Tories anyway. A problem. This also goes for Lukaszuk, Zwozdesky and Blackett, and anyone else thinking of entering the race at this late hour.

What the Conservatives desperately need is a convincing victory on the first ballot by credible candidate. From their perspective, any of the foursome of Horner, Mar, Morton and Redford would do nicely.

The more candidates in the race at this point, for whatever reasons, the less likely that is to happen.

Regardless, Orman hasn't been around for 18 years and apparently hasn't had his picture taken in all of that time, except by the Herald last week. It's hard to imagine what he hopes to achieve with this ill-prepared run.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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