Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen pulled out of the race on Wednesday, a day after declaring his candidacy, having realised Albanese had strong grassroots support.
Bowen’s withdrawal opened the door for Chalmers, a Queenslander who’s also from the party’s right, to take on the frontrunner from Labor’s left.
Chalmers, who has been in parliament since 2013 as the member for the Brisbane seat of Rankin, is expected to lay out his intentions on Thursday after being encouraged to run.
Labor frontbencher Stephen Jones, from the party’s left, poured cold water on the prospect of Chalmers taking on Albanese.
“I’ll leave it to Jim to make his views known, but I’m just saying I’d be surprised if we’re still talking about this next week,” he told Sky News on Thursday.
“Anthony has got very strong support both within the caucus and within the rank and file of the party.
“There is a will within the organisation to have this sorted as soon as possible and move on.”
At least 18 MPs and Senators have publicly supported Albanese, including veteran South Australian Penny Wong.
Albanese has signalled he would adopt a more cooperative approach to business, describing the language used during the campaign as terrible.
“There are common interests that are there … and if elected I would look for solutions, not arguments. We have to articulate a vision for how we increase wealth and not just share wealth,” he told The Australian.
The ALP national executive met on Wednesday evening to map out the leadership process, with nominations set to open on Thursday and close on Monday.
If Albanese is not the only candidate, ALP members will have the chance to vote on their preferred leader through a postal ballot between May 31 and June 27.
The Labor caucus would then meet and cast their votes on July 1, with both the rank-and-file and parliamentary vote holding equal weight.
In the 2013 leadership battle with Shorten, Albanese won the grassroots support but lost the caucus vote.
Regional NSW MP Joel Fitzgibbon believes Albanese is best placed to connect with country voters and the party’s working-class base.
“He has a deep interest in rural and regional Australia – always has done,” Fitzgibbon told ABC’s 7.30.
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