Santo Santoro remains desperate to continue to exert his influence on the Queensland Liberal Party — and no more so than in the race to find a successor and get young Mark Powell into the Senate.

The anti-Santoro forces have picked Sue Boyce as their candidate to fill the vacancy, a candidate who has upset some in the party during her rise through the ranks.

Dumped state deputy opposition leader and former MP Bob Quinn has announced that he is running. This has provoked surprising support from Santoro supporters, seemingly at the expense of fellow Gold Coaster and Santoro favourite Mark Powell. In a twist, Powell unexpectedly withdrew his nomination as Santoro’s Senate replacement on Friday. What does this all mean?

Sources in the Queensland Liberals say the encouragement for Quinn to throw his hat in the ring has come from the Santoro faction itself.

The selection of a Santoro Senate replacement on 14 April has nothing to do with the Senate ticket order, however. Sitting Liberal Senator Ian Macdonald had the first spot locked away, Santoro had the number two, Mark Powell was number three and Sue Boyce had the fourth position. The Liberals are only likely to win two Senate slots in Queensland at the poll. A win from the third position is possible but unlikely — or is it?

Whoever is selected to replace Santoro is automatically on the Liberal Senate ticket for the upcoming Federal election. If Boyce replace Santoro, then another person will need to be recruited into the unwinable fourth spot on the ticket.

However, the Queensland Liberal management committee is still controlled by Santoro. It decided to pick Santoro’s Senate replacement on 14 April — and also decided to deal with the Senate ticket matters at a later date. This should be a clue.

The Santoro supporters have Quinn convinced he has their support for a Senate replacement race. He also thinks this will lock him into the No 2 slot on the ticket. Yet sources suspect that the Santoro faction intends to delay the reordering of the Senate ticket until much closer to the election, when it has become an urgent matter that can only be dealt with by the management committee.

At that time, they say, the Santoro supporters will then install Powell as number two and relegate Quinn to the third slot. They will claim that Quinn’s profile may swing enough votes to win the all-important third Senate spot for the Liberals in Queensland. Claim, anyway.