Who might put up their hand for pre-selection or nominate to stand for Gippsland? Here’s a brief rundown on the Gippsland personalities in the public eye:
Darren Chester (Nationals) Two time loser against Craig Ingram, the Independent Member for the state lower house seat of East Gippsland. Shameless self publicist, highly personable but regarded as one knife short in the block when it comes to political skills. Has the endorsement of Nationals State Leader, Peter Ryan. Would be miffed at the speculation in The Sunday Age (6 April), regarding some Nationals shoulder tapping other likely candidates.
Jane Rowe (ALP) Former Mayor of East Gippsland Shire and hard working Shire councillor. Has an acerbic personality at times which has not endeared her to many locals but is regarded as a talented operator in a hard to win seat as her two past unsuccessful stints against McGauran at the last two Federal elections indicate. The front runner for ALP pre-selection and if unsuccessful pencil her in if she moves to Melbourne for a safe seat at state or federal level.
Darren McCubbin (ALP) The current mayor of Wellington Shire, and irrepressible exhibitionist, known for his contributions to the Arts especially theatre and very popular in the Sale area as an effective shire councillor. Too many however regard him as a lightweight jester who would be better off running murder mystery nights for the local Lions and Rotary Clubs.
Christian Zahra (ALP) Defeated as the MHR for MacMillan in 2004, the seat adjacent to Gippsland, by current member Russell Broadbent, Zahra is highly regarded as a promising politician whose career was unexpectedly terminated and which could be resurrected in Gippsland. A potential dark horse who would be popular with the ALP voters in the Latrobe Valley area of the electorate.
Peter Bommer (Liberals) A lumbering amiable giant of a man and another former Mayor and Councillor in the East Gippsland Shire who honed his campaign skills as a Liberal candidate in the last state elections. Despite his friendly demeanour is seen as a bit too conservative in the Howard mould for many in the party but could attract votes from the CUBS (cashed up bogans), boss cockies, and “sea change” retirees around the Gippsland Lakes.
Craig Ingram (Independent) For three successive elections, the independent member for Gippsland East in the state parliament has taken on all comers and left them battered and bruised. Ingram is neither conforming or denying that he might stand as an independent. As a politician he runs rings around everyone else but in recent months as been regarded as infected with a touch of hubris. He has to consider whether he would attract votes in the strong ALP west of the electorate to offset conservative South Gippsland support for the Nationals. Many are advising him it would be his political death knell to abandon the state seat and tilt at federal politics. In essence with a state by-election he would be handing Gippsland East back to the Nationals and heading off into the political sunset if he fails to secure Gippsland federally.