CANDIDATES are starting to line up for the 2018 state election.
Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy and Liberal Member for Ripon Louise Staley will stand for the seats they won in the 2014 election, while Labor has confirmed Beaufort’s Sarah de Santis as its candidate for Ripon.
She will contest the seat on November 24, after winning pre-selection ahead of Kate Astbury and Maurice Billi.
Ms Staley narrowly won the seat from Labor after preferences in 2014, making it one of the most marginal seats in the state.
Lowan however is one of the safest, with Ms Kealy defying a statewide swing to Labor in the 2014 election to win the seat, notching more than 54 per cent of first-preference votes.
Ms Kealy said she would put her hand up for Nationals pre-selection.
“We haven’t got the dates for that yet, but I imagine it will probably be finalised some time in February,” she said.
“The opportunity to lead Lowan is a gift. It’s one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have, to help your community in that way.”
The Liberals went through their pre-selection process in mid-2017.
Ms Staley said candidates for every Liberal seat were confirmed, and she was hopeful the Coalition would have the opportunity to govern.
“People have a choice that can and will make a difference, particularly in a seat like Ripon,” she said.
“I think people in Ripon generally have been disappointed in this government.”
Ms Staley said the Liberals would not put forward a candidate to contest Lowan.
“The Coalition agreement is absolutely clear on that, that where there is an ongoing Liberal or National MP, there is no three-cornered contest,” she said.
Labor Party member and Murtoa resident Bob Scates does not plan to run for Lowan.
Mr Scates contested the seat in the 2014 election, and the federal seats of Mallee and Murray in 2010 and 2007 respectively.
“My intention at this stage is not to run,” he said.
“Three runs for zero wins is probably enough.
“We’ve had a couple of expressions of interest from Halls Gap way for Lowan candidates.
“I’m not sure when our nominations for Lowan will open, but I expect soon.
“In Ripon we have an excellent candidate in Sarah, who'll give the current member a real shake.
“It’s also possible the Prime Minister will call a federal election before the end of the year, so we could have the seat of Mallee in play too.”
Australian Country Party secretary Darren Cooper said the party was starting to look at candidates for the two seats.
Ararat Rural City councillor Gwenda Allgood said in September she was considering standing as an independent in Ripon.
Victorian Greens state director Clare Quinn said the party would run candidates in Lowan and Ripon.
She said the party would pre-select candidates in the next few months.