A three-way contest will decide who is likely to be the next state member for Footscray.
Katie Hall is looming as the candidate to beat in Labor pre-selection, but Maribyrnong deputy mayor Sarah Carter and former councillor Michael Clarke have both confirmed they are entering the fray.
Factional players are now hammering out internal deals over who will have inside running in the plum safe seats of Footscray, Williamstown and Tarneit when they are vacated at next year’s election.
Ms Hall, the North East Link Authority media manager, was reportedly set to challenge sitting member Marsha Thomson, who has since stemmed any likelihood of public bloodshed by announcing her retirement.
The Footscray local has the backing of former Andrews government minister Adem Somyurek, a key right faction powerbroker who can deliver a large block of support, but Cr Carter and Mr Clarke are both confident of attracting support from unaligned members.
Mr Clarke, who served on council from 2005 to 2016 but failed to secure a return at the last election, said he was a “shovel ready” candidate ready not only to represent Footscray at state level but to rocket straight to the front bench.
“I have got the history of working with government, I think I am pretty well credentialed to take up the role,” he said.
“The others would have a steep learning curve whereas I am ready for action.”
Cr Carter, a sitting councillor since 2008, confirmed she was in the race but declined to comment further.
Ms Hall, a former staffer to Nicola Roxon, unsuccessfully contested pre-selection for the federal seat of Gellibrand against Tim Watts in 2013.
She has kept a low profile in the pre-selection battle to date, taking leave from her role as communications director of the North East Link Authority.
Ms Hall could not be reached for comment.
ALP branch members will vote on pre-selection on the October 21-22 weekend before a further vote by the party’s central committee.
The result will be known by November 15, placing the winner in the box seat to retain Footscray at the next election, given the need for a 16 per cent swing to take the seat.