While Kristy McBain and Anthony Albanese continue on the Eden-Monaro campaign trail, the Liberal Party will have to wait at least another week until a candidate can be chosen to contest the by-election.
Liberal pre-selection will take place on 23 May after the party moved to vote electronically for the candidate they want to go up against Labor’s Ms McBain. Presentations for nominations will happen next Friday, 22 May and the state executive will then have to officially endorse the selected candidate.
Queanbeyan-Palerang Councillor Mark Schweikert has nominated himself for pre-selection, but Fiona Kotvojs – who came second to Mike Kelly by just 1600 votes at the 2019 federal election – is widely tipped to be the frontrunner to receive the Liberal Party nomination.
Pru Gordon from the National Farmers’ Federation, and Dr Jerry Knockles – a government relations manager at World Vision and one-time chief of staff for former Eden-Monaro MP Peter Hendy – have also put their hat in the ring for Liberal pre-selection.
The Liberal and National parties pre-selection process for the marginal seat has been marred by weeks of speculation and political infighting between high-profile NSW Ministers John Barilaro and Andrew Constance.
Mr Barilaro ultimately decided he would not run, paving the way for NSW Transport Minister, Mr Constance, to announce his candidacy, before spectacularly pulling out a day later after Mr Bariloro’s leaked slurs about his Coalition colleague appeared on the front page of the Daily Telegraph.
The Labor Party has endorsed former Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Kristy McBain to contest the seat, touting her strong local roots and prominence during the past summer’s bushfires. Labor is hoping that running a prominent local candidate will help offset the potential loss of personal votes for Dr Kelly, who is a popular figure in the region.
Dr Kelly announced his retirement in April due to ongoing health issues, including undergoing 10 surgeries in the past 10 months because of chronic conditions he sustained during his time serving in the Australian Defence Force. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has classified Mr Kelly as permanently impaired because of his deteriorating osteoarthritis.