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Rising Labor figure stays mum on potential Lord Mayoral tilt

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Former Labor candidate for the state seat of Adelaide, Jo Chapley, has refused to comment on speculation she will run for Lord Mayor of Adelaide, should she be unsuccessful in gaining a winnable spot on the party’s Senate ticket.

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Chapley has been the subject of widespread conjecture that she is considering a run against Lord Mayor Martin Haese in this year’s council elections.

The talk in Labor circles has intensified after a factional deal dashed her chances of replacing retiring Labor MP Kate Ellis in the federal seat of Adelaide.

Asked today whether she was interested in running for Lord Mayor, Chapley responded by text message: “No comment at this stage.”

Asked whether she is seeking a spot on Labor’s Senate ticket for the next federal election, she repeated: “No comment at this stage.”

Chapley ran against then-Opposition Leader, now-Premier Steven Marshall in the inner-eastern suburbs seat of Dunstan at the 2014 state election, cutting his margin to 3.1 per cent, before securing a swing to Labor in Adelaide against now Child Protection Minister Rachel Sanderson at this year’s poll.

Labor’s state executive threw open preselection for all federal seats last week.

With the safe Labor seat of Port Adelaide abolished in a redistribution, sitting MP Mark Butler has done a factional deal to move into neighbouring Hindmarsh, which will swallow up large parts of his previous seat.

Hindmarsh MP Steve Georganas will stand in Adelaide, where Ellis is retiring from politics at the next federal election.

Given that Butler and Georganas are both from the Left faction and Ellis is from the Right, the factions have agreed that the Right will claim the second spot on the Senate ticket for the next election.

That candidate will need to be a woman. Marielle Smith – a former adviser to Ellis – is expected to nominate. InDaily understands Chapley has also expressed interest in the position.

If she is unsuccessful, a high-profile Lord Mayoral term would put her in good shape to have another run at the state seat of Adelaide in 2022. However, she’d first have to ensure her eligibility to run (she doesn’t live in the city) and then defeat entrenched Town Hall incumbent Martin Haese, who is recontesting his position.

The previous woman to hold Adelaide’s lord mayorship, Jane Lomax-Smith, moved from local government to win the state seat of Adelaide for Labor at successive elections from 2002.

Chapley achieved a swing of two per cent against Sanderson at the March election, losing the two-party preferred vote 51-49.

After switching her attention to the seat in 2017 – and leaving the Left faction for the Right – Chapley became a familiar figure at city events as she sought to raise her profile.

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