John Brumby’s right faction of the Victorian ALP is preparing to re-endorse Ivanhoe MP Craig Langdon at a meeting of the powerful Public Office Selection Committee tonight, despite rumblings of dissent within state caucus over his suitability for the position.

Senior factional sources say that Langdon will be re-endorsed by his Unity colleagues, despite a challenge from Bronwyn Pike chief of staff Anthony Carbines. Carbines is challenging Langdon from within his own faction, an interesting development that reminds Crikey of the 1977 pre-selection stoush for Melbourne Ports, when Unity’s Clyde Holding edged out Simon Crean following the resignation of Simon’s dad Frank.

On Monday, Langdon triumphed in a local plebiscite, by 71 votes to 46. But the so-called “stability-pact” signed between the party’s Socialist Left and the Shorten-Conroy faction in January means his Unity faction can effectively hand-pick its candidate, via a vote of the POSC.

Preselections in the Victorian Branch of the ALP are divided equally between a local plebiscite and the central panel, which reflects the factional makeup on State Conference floor.

Langdon has become a polarising figure within the party following a number of escapades that have dogged his time in office.

In 2005, he was involved in an “acrimonious dispute” with a long-time staffer, who later accused the MP of pressuring him to drop a defamation action, in return for backing for a Banyule Council mayoral tilt.

Late last year, Langdon was embroiled in another council feud, this time over claims he threatened to run over a candidate’s son and called her a “stupid cow” and a “bitch”.

A group of influential powerbrokers in the Premier’s office are said to be concerned if further allegations come to light, they have the potential to derail the Labor government or decimate it in opposition, such is their supposed seriousness. Sources say parliamentary privilege could be used against Langdon by the opposition in the lead-up to the election.

It’s possible Langdon could receive an unexpected rebuke tonight in favour of Carbines. But if he is endorsed, insiders say the incumbent could be crippled at the 2010 poll, despite holding Ivanhoe by a massive 12.5 per cent. If the Liberal candidate pursues a campaign with appropriate vigour, the seat could once again reside in conservative hands.

If Langdon succeeds, he could still face further hurdles. Crikey understands that the state campaign committee could, on the orders of the administrative committee or the moral authority of the Premier, intervene to deny Langdon a place on the ballot.

In 1999, then-opposition leader Steve Bracks famously knifed the sitting Member for Richmond Dimitri Dollis and the upper house member for Doutta Galla, Tayfun Eren, despite the duo winning both pre-selection plebiscites and central panel backing.

Meddling from above also played a part in 1993 when State President Barry Jones weighed in to protect Legislative Assembly speaker Ken Coghill in Werribee from rank-and-file favourite Joe Italiano. Italiano, widely believed to be un-electable, then withdrew at the last minute in the lead-up to the 1996 poll, with Werribee (now Tarneit) coming close to falling to the Liberals.

Interestingly, Italiano attempted a similar putsch this year, shaping up against Christine Campbell in Pascoe Vale. Italiano predictably withdrew his renegade challenge this morning, leaving Ivanhoe the only seat set to be voted on tonight.

Elsewhere, the preselection round was reasonably smooth, despite early fears over a departing dummy-spit by the Member for Keilor George Seitz. Seitz originally hatched plans to run around 10 of his western suburbs acolytes in state seats, but the uprising collapsed when it became clear his empire had evaporated.

But while Seitz’ stench disperses, allegations of insider impropriety in Keilor could linger. The veteran numbers man will be subsumed by former Bill Shorten staffer, controversial TWU contractor and the wife of Senator Steve Hutchins, Natalie Sykes-Hutchins. Insiders say Sykes-Hutchins could struggle if ETU-backed youth worker Les Twentyman recovers from serious illness and decides to run against her.

The fight to replace Carlo Carli in Brunswick was settled on Monday night with Slater and Gordon’s Jane Garrett seeing off Moreland councillor Enver Erdogan with over 60 per cent of the plebiscite vote. Garrett maintains the long tradition of Slaters staffers making the leap to leftist politics, following previous defections by Julia Gillard and Adam Bandt.

The other broadside, from militant unions excluded from the left-right “stability pact”, also came to nought, amid suggestions that excluded right-wing comrades led by Senator David Feeney have buried the hatchet with Bill Shorten.

In the upper house, the only remaining wisps of controversy concern who will replace tainted Northern Metropolitan MP Theo Theophanous (Nathan Murphy is favoured) and the immediate future of Eastern Metropolitan upper house member and ETU-deserter Shaun Leane. The National Executive will rule on upper house preselections after John Brumby moved to override the grassroots. He is expected to take advice from the factions, in addition to his own musings.

But for the moment at least, all eyes will be on Ivanhoe, and the tough decision facing a re-united party eager to avoid any hiccups in what looks like smooth path to 2010 glory against a talent-free opposition.