FOUR new challengers have joined the Liberal pre-selection battle for the upper house in Western Victoria.
Former Howard government advisor Rod Nockles, Terang solicitor Ian Pugh, Young Liberals vice-president and lawyer Aaron Lane and Ballarat City councillor Samantha McIntosh are each vying to become a candidate for a spot in the legislative council.
Sitting Liberal MP Simon Ramsay will recontest his seat while a vacancy has been created by the retirement of MP David Koch.
There are five seats covering the district shared evenly by Labor and the Liberals, with one held by the Nationals.
Mr Pugh, 55, has previously stood as a Labor party candidate in the state seats of Sandringham in 1988 and Dromana against current MP Martin Dixon in 1996.
But a change of heart in 2006 saw him join the party and even support the campaign of Mr Dixon to retain the seat.
“I believe I can make a contribution to the community if elected as an upper house member,” Mr Pugh said.
Mr Pugh has since worked on campaigns for federal Wannon MP Dan Tehan and state Polwarth MP Terry Mulder as well as campaigns in the seats of Mornington and Dunkley.
He is also on the board of disability service provider Cooinda.
Mr Nockles lost a bitter pre-selection bid against Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson in 2012 while Ms McIntosh recently lost nomination to stand as the party’s candidate for the lower house seat of Wendouree.
Candidates are expected to be announced by the end of April.
Moyne Shire mayor James Purcell announced earlier this month that he would challenge the fifth seat with his own political party, Vote1 Local Jobs.
Country Alliance lead candidate Garry Kerr is also contesting.