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Parties on a war footing as Labor targets Lib marginals

Politics

SA Labor will fast-track the selection of candidates for key marginal electorates early in the new year, with a former federal hopeful strongly linked to the vulnerable Liberal-held seat of Adelaide.

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Both major parties are seeking to sign off on a string of candidates within the next few months ahead of the next state election in 2022, with the Liberals currently seeking nominations for a Legislative Council preselection ballot to be held in March.

Labor, however, is focussing on the House of Assembly, with party powerbrokers keen to pin down candidates for Government-held marginals the ALP will need to win to return to power.

“We’re looking at getting people onto our lower house [ticket] pretty quickly,” one insider told InDaily.

Another noted that “politics is about putting a name to a face” and “the quicker we can get candidates on the ground the better”.

“There’s a view that the preselections should be something we look at sooner rather than later,” they said.

This is set to put inner-northern seats such as King and Newland into focus, as well as Elder in the southern suburbs and the central seat of Adelaide, where Liberal frontbencher Rachel Sanderson is considered vulnerable.

“We think we can win Adelaide, and we think with a bit of work we can win King,” said one Labor source.

Family mediator and former NSW farmer Cressida O’Hanlon, Labor’s candidate for Sturt at this year’s federal election, is hotly tipped to throw her hat in the ring for Adelaide, and has already garnered some heavyweight support within the party’s Right faction.

“There are definitely people encouraging her to put her hand up,” said one insider.

Another told InDaily: “Cressida is definitely interested in running in the next state election, and she did a pretty good job in Sturt… she’s interested in Adelaide.”

O’Hanlon did not respond to inquiries today.

There is also speculation that Labor’s former candidate for the seat, Jo Chapley, could have another tilt, but she told InDaily: “I’ve got no comment to make at this stage.”

Longtime Labor advisor Lucy Hood has also been mentioned as a contender, and similarly did not respond to inquiries today.

King, the most marginal Liberal-held seat, is also expected to attract plenty of interest, with party insiders suggesting interest from Tea Tree Gully councillor Brett Rankine, the son of former Labor frontbencher Jennifer Rankine.

However, he told InDaily “no-one’s spoken to me about that at all”.

“I’ve got a pretty young family [so] if someone came and tapped me on the shoulder, I’d have to seriously have some discussions about what that looked like,” he said.

“It’s not something I’d even considered.”

But sources say the Left faction is more likely to endorse a woman in King, as state Labor seeks to meet a nationally-imposed 50 per cent quota of female MPs by 2025.

That could similarly impact on nearby Newland, where Labor will seek to win back a seat held by former minister Tom Kenyon for 12 years.

It’s understood Kenyon himself does not plan to renominate for the seat, although his former staffer Lucas Jones – another Tea Tree Gully councillor – has been mentioned as a potential hopeful.

Neither Kenyon nor Jones would comment today.

While the focus in the new year will be on the lower house, Labor could yet face internal ructions over its upper house lineup, with state secretary Reggie Martin repeatedly linked to a move in to state parliament in 2022.

That would likely be at the expense of a Right-faction incumbent, with both Tung Ngo and Russell Wortley seeking fresh terms.

Martin told InDaily his tenure as secretary expired in October next year but “I’ll be putting my hand up to go again”.

“I’m not ruling it out,” he said of a Legislative Council tilt.

“If there’s a vacancy for the Legislative Council, and there’s some support for me to put my hand up, I’d very, very seriously consider it [but] my number one job is to get us elected.”

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