There’s much excitement ahead of the weekend preselection for Bruce Baird’s seat of Cook, a Liberal shoo-in even with the polls the way they are with its 13.3% margin.

The candidates include former state Liberal director and Tourism Australia boss Scott Morrison, Optus executive and former Richard Alston staffer Paul Fletcher, barrister Mark Speakman – and one Michael Towke.

Morrison is seen as the frontrunner. He has references from a whole range of Liberal luminaries (although, oddly for a preselection in the most parochial part of Sydney, none from locals).

Towke, however, is likely to be the kingmaker. He has been, shall we say, an assiduous recruiter. A very assiduous recruiter. Such an assiduous recruiter that, Liberal sources say, he is likely to make it through to the final round of elimination ballots.

Even if he fails to win himself, his forces will have been crucial to shaping to the outcome of the preselection.

The Australian reports today: “Mr Towke, who has only recently changed his surname from Taouk…remains something of a mystery. His challenge is based on a campaign in which he has recruited hundreds of new members, many of them from the Lebanese community, to the party’s Miranda branch.”

Lebanese Christian, Crikey understands. And Crikey also understands that Towke learnt how to do all this when he was involved with Wentworth, in the Turnbull vs. King contest.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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