FOUR people are in the running for an almost-guaranteed seat in the State Parliament representing Western Victoria for the Liberal Party.
Terang lawyer Ian Pugh, Ballarat City councillor Samantha McIntosh, Geelong lobbyist Aaron Lane and Surf Coast councillor Rod Nockles are all vying for second spot on the Liberal Party ticket following the retirement of incumbent MP David Koch.
Mr Pugh is the only south-west-based preselection candidate in the massive electorate, which covers Geelong and Ballarat in the east to the South Australian border in the west and extends as far north as Horsham.
Several of the candidates have participated in internal party contests before, with Mr Nockles taking part in the Wannon 2009 preselection and twice for the neighbouring Corangamite electorate.
Ms McIntosh has stood as a state election candidate for both the National and Liberal parties while Mr Pugh contested several metropolitan seats for the Labor Party but switched allegiances more than a decade ago.
Liberal Party delegates from all lower house electorate conferences across western Victoria will meet later this month to determine who will gain the position.
Upper House MP Simon Ramsay, who has flagged he will recontest his seat following his first successful tilt at the 2010 election, is likely to gain first position due to incumbency.
Five seats are allocated to Western Victoria with the Liberal and Labor parties automatically winning two seats each due to the sheer bulk of the vote directed at the two major parties.
Labor MPs Gayle Tierney and Jaala Pulford are likely to retain the first and second positions on the Labor Party ballot, almost ensuring a return to the Legislative Council.
The fifth position is held by National Party MP David O’Brien following preferences but the spot is being eyed off by Vote1 Local Jobs candidate James Purcell, Greens candidate Lloyd Davies and Country Alliance candidate Garry Kerr.