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The Doors -- "People Are Strange"
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Alberta Premier Jim Prentice addresses ranchers and farmers at an oil well site near Three Hills, Alberta, April 13, 2015. Prentice was campaigning during the Alberta election. REUTERS/Todd Korol  - RTR4X7HF
Alberta Premier Jim Prentice of the Progressive Conservative Party
It wasn't supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be easy. Five months ago, Alberta's long-governing Progressive Conservative Party was at the peak of its power. After dispatching an aggressive challenge by the far-right Wildrose Party in 2012 by a 44-34 margin, the PCs held a dominant 61 seats in the province's 87-member legislative assembly, the equivalent of a state legislature. While their leader, Alison Redford, had grown extremely unpopular thanks to far-reaching allegations of arrogance and abuses of power, the party itself seemed to put Redford's troubles behind it when it replaced her last year with Jim Prentice, a banking executive and former cabinet member in the federal government.

(There's truly nothing "progressive," by the way, about the "Progressive Conservatives," at least by Canadian standards. They're a right-wing party aligned with the Conservative Party that currently holds sway under Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the federal level and are better known as the Tories, just like their counterparts in the UK.)

Prentice soon solidified his grip on the legislature. After leading his party to a sweep of four critical by-elections (that's Canadian for "special elections") last October, he negotiated a stunning mass defection of 11 members of the 16-member Wildrose caucus to the PC ranks, including Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, shortly before Christmas.

With the Wildrose in disarray and the right wing seemingly consolidated once again under the PC tent, many Alberta election observers were expecting Prentice to call a snap election (Canadian political leaders have wide discretion when it comes to the timing of elections) and score a massive majority in the process. But a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation: The expected Tory cakewalk has turned into a legitimate three-way race, with a resurrected Wildrose and an unexpected threat from the left in Alberta's surging New Democratic Party squeezing the PCs from both sides.

How did we get to this point, you ask? Head below the fold for the complete backstory on this stunning turn of events.

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Swingnuts... we're home.

Sun Apr 19, 2015 at 7:57 AM PT (Jeff Singer): WV-Gov, Sen: Here's a surprise: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced on Sunday that he will forgo a 2016 run for governor and will instead stay in the Senate.

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Bob Marley -- "Waiting in Vain"
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The Nazz -- "Open My Eyes"
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Junior Boys -- "In the Morning"
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Superstar -- "Feels Like Forever"
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Aaron Schock riding a horse at a Fourth of July parade in Eureka, IL
Aaron Schock trots out of town
In the wake of Republican Rep. Aaron Schock's sudden resignation on Tuesday, it's an opportune time for the Daily Kos Elections crew to resurrect a familiar feature from election cycles past: our House Open Seat Watch! Here's our first look at the 2016 cycle's retirements, resignations, and vacancies, as well as potential quitters and folks otherwise on the watch list who've confirmed they will indeed run for another term in the lower chamber. First up, the departures:
Note: "Age" in the above chart refers to an incumbent's age on Election Day, not their current age. "O '12 %" refers to Barack Obama's share of the vote in each district in the 2012 presidential election.

We're up to ten confirmed open seats this cycle—three of which will be dealt with sooner rather than later via special elections (IL-18, MS-01, and NY-11). But there's much, much more below, so open seat fans will definitely want to head past the fold for our retirement watch list.

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Pixies -- "Where is My Mind?"
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The Plimsouls -- "A Million Miles Away"
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Lights -- "Running With the Boys"
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The Cranberries -- "Zombie"
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