06/02/2014 10:43 EDT | Updated 08/02/2014 05:59 EDT

Manitoba Progressive Conservatives nominate familiar face for Winnipeg riding

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Progressive Conservatives have nominated a familiar face for a Winnipeg riding that is expected to be a tight race in the next election.

Rochelle Squires beat Nancy Cooke Monday night for the Tory nomination in the Riel constituency in south Winnipeg.

Squires ran for the Tories in the last election and finished 1,400 votes behind Christine Melnick of the NDP.

Since then, Melnick has been kicked out of the NDP caucus by Premier Greg Selinger and now sits as an Independent.

Melnick has said she plans to run again in the next election — a move that could split the NDP vote.

Squires says she's not paying attention to Melnick or the NDP and is focused on starting the ground game for an election slated for the spring of 2016.

"I think at the doors, we're going to have a much, much different conversation this time around," she said.

Recent opinion polls suggest the NDP's popularity has dropped sharply in the wake of last year's increase of the provincial sales tax.