NDP candidate Jason Heistad trying to find footing in conservative country
The winner of this month's provincial election could be decided by voters in hotly-contested Calgary ridings.
But polling projects the United Conservative Party will take nearly every rural riding in the province, with strong support in central Alberta.
So, what's it like to campaign for the New Democrats in a riding that always votes blue?
One NDP candidate says smashed signs and pointed comments on social media have become the norm this campaign.
"We've had people taking signs, we've had our volunteers putting up signs where people are yelling at them," said Jason Heistad, the NDP candidate for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
Heistad is running in a riding considered to be a conservative stronghold.
Incumbent Devin Dreeshen won the last election with nearly 75 per cent of the vote.
Polling from 338 Canada projects there's a 99 per cent chance the UCP candidate will win again.
Asked for an interview, Dreeshen provided the following statement:
“The campaign is off to a great start. I have been knocking on hundreds of doors every day with an excellent team of volunteers across the constituency and we are seeing a lot of support.
"Folks are energized, engaged, and aware of what is at stake for Alberta in this election.
"The main issues we are seeing at the doors include the high cost of living, rural crime, and the economy. I look forward to directly connecting with people to share our positive vision for the future of Alberta.”
The NDP is still optimistic.
"It's like starting a hockey game. 0-0. I don't look at... percentages of who won. How I look at it is, if you run a good campaign the game is 0-0 and you're going to give it your all for three periods," Heistad said.
But he acknowledges it's been an uphill battle.
Someone ran over one of his signs with a truck, and a woman was spotted taking all the NDP signs from another area.
"I knew what I was getting into as a candidate. It's unfortunate when people run over your signs, drive over them with big trucks. But I'm always an optimist that there's more good people out there," Heistad said.
Some people CTV News spoke to in the riding suggest it's not a slam dunk,
"Honestly, I'm not sure. I hear a lot of people just kind of complaining about the government in general and a lot of people have been saying they're not sure who they're going to vote for, so it's hard to say," one person said.
"They're not really talking about it, but I think they're all going to vote conservative, so..." another said.
"Some people like Notley, some people don't like Notley. Some people like Smith, some people don't like Smith. I guess they both have their pros and cons at the end of the day. I don't know, I'm hoping for a little bit of change, for sure," said a third.
The NDP did file a complaint with the RCMP about the alleged sign theft.
The RCMP is still investigating.