This weekend’s by-election in John
Brogden’s old seat of Pittwater promises to be a doozy.

“The Liberal Party has hit the panic button
after internal polling showed it would struggle to win next Saturday’s by-election
in Pittwater, the northern beaches seat of former leader John Brogden,” Alex
Mitchell reported in the Sun Herald yesterday.
“Liberal candidate Paul Nicolaou, the party’s chief fund-raiser in NSW, is
being tagged ‘an outsider’ by the community coalition that is supporting his
major challenger, Alex McTaggart, the independent mayor of Pittwater.”

Today’s Sydney Morning Herald tells of some
curious manoeuvrings by one of the greyer eminences of the lunar right of the
NSW Libs, Michael Darby.

“Right-wingers in the Liberal Party tried
to recruit two prominent Pittwater identities to the party to replace John
Brogden in the weeks before the former opposition leader resigned as the local
member,” State Political Editor Anne Davies writes.
“Emails obtained by the Herald show that Michael Darby, a member of the
Balgowlah Heights branch of the party who has strong ties to the right of the
party, sent an email to a Pittwater community activist, Harvey Rose, in
September asking him to bring the Mayor of Pittwater, Alex McTaggart, to a
breakfast function on September 12 to discuss the future of Pittwater.”

A loss will be a major embarrassment to the
Liberals NSW new leader, Peter Debnam.

And if he goes down, Nicolaou won’t have
much credibility if he tries to return to his old role as party bagman.

Will it happen? The Poll Bludger, William
Bowe, is crunching the figures. He’s sceptical – but we’re still in for a hell
of a wild last week of the campaign.