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'Lots' of Liberals worried the party will lose Victorian state by-election

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Voters will head to the polls in Warrandyte later this year after the resignation of incumbent Ryan Smith.

Victorian Liberals are worried that the party will lose the upcoming state by-election in Warrandyte, despite the party holding the seat since 1988.

The party has chosen Nicole Ta-Ei Werner as its candidate after seven different rounds of voting among members today. Werner ran in Box Hill in 2022, where the Liberals suffered and 8.9% swing away from the party on a primary vote basis.

Election analyst Kevin Bonham notes the swing in Box Hill was consistent with what was seen in the nearby electorates of Ringwood, Ashwood and Glen Waverley.

Eight other candidates were in the running:

  • Andrew Conlon

  • Antonietta di Cosmo

  • David Farrelly

  • Maxwell Gratton

  • Jason McClintock

  • Sarah Overton

  • John Roskam

  • Jemma Townson

  • Allison Troth

A Liberal source has told 6 News that they and "lots" of other party members believe the party will lose Warrandyte, which would be another blow for the Liberals after their loss at the federal Aston by-election just months ago.

Before the 2022 state election, Werner was a pastor at Pentecostal church Planetshakers. 6 News has been told there was a large amount of pentecostals seen at today's preselection voting in support of her, leaving non-Pentecostals "grey-faced".

If the Liberals lose, questions could also be raised about the leadership of John Pesutto.

There was a slight swing toward Liberal MP Ryan Smith in Warrandyte last year, however the party still only holds the seat by around 4 percent.

Labor has not announced any candidate, though if they do, it will likely be Naomi Oakley, who contested the seat in 2022.

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