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Cakewalk for Labor in Jay's old haunt

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Five candidates will fight to replace Jay Weatherill in his former western suburbs stronghold but his Labor Left-faction successor is unlikely to be troubled in his bid to retain the seat.

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Nominations closed at noon today for both Cheltenham and Enfield ahead of by-elections on February 9 to replace the former premier and his deputy John Rau, who both retired from parliament late last year.

The Liberal Party is not fielding endorsed candidates, although Saru Rana is running as an Independent Liberal in Enfield, with permission from the party, of which she remains a member.

Cheltenham hopeful and southern suburbs real estate agent Robert de Jonge is already reprising his “SA Better” signage that irked Nick Xenophon during last year’s state election campaign with its orange colour scheme and slogan derivative of the former senator’s ill-fated “SA Best”.

A former Onkaparinga councillor, de Jonge is a serial candidate who has previously run in several federal, state and local elections – including the Fisher by-election in 2014, for which he unsuccessfully sought Liberal preselection before standing as an independent.

Also running as an independent in Cheltenham is Mike Lesiw, a regular commenter on InDaily who announced his candidacy in the InDaily comments section overnight.

Lesiw, who previously stood for Croydon against now-Labor leader Peter Malinauskas in the March state election, said his political activism was inspired by his experiences fighting a claim against WorkCover SA, which failed to inform him for several years that he had made a successful claim, in a major failure of communication exposed in the South Australian Employment Tribunal in 2017.

The Greens have previously endorsed state election candidate Steffi Medrow to run again in the Alberton-based seat, while Peter Miller is running as a Liberal Democrat.

It could make for a relaxing ride for Labor candidate Joe Szakacs, but he insists “there’s nothing relaxing about working hard in 40C weather”, arguing while “by-elections historically have a high number of candidates… I’ve been taking it very seriously and I’m expecting a contest”.

But asked which opposition candidate he believes will prove the biggest threat, he said: “I think the major contest is less about within, but about continuing a positive vision for the community of Cheltenham [and] where the residents of the community want to see politics going, rather than a competition between difference names.”

The Liberal Democrats are also running in Enfield, with another former candidate, Stephen Humble, flying the flag.

Mansoor Hashimi has emerged as the fourth independent running in Enfield against Labor frontrunner Andrea Michaels, rounding out a crowded field headed by former mayor Gary Johanson, former Upper House hopeful Amrik Thandi and Rana, along with the Greens’ Sebastian Konyn.

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