Newly re-elected Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan has put his hand up to take over from Matthew Guy as Victorian Liberal leader, saying he is the man to broaden the party's public appeal.
Mr Riordan is on track to hold his seat with a 2.6 per cent margin, but the Liberals suffered a drubbing statewide as Labor appears likely to equal or beat the 55 seats it won in 2018's "Danslide" election.
The Polwarth MP said as the only regional candidate in the leadership race, he offered something the other contenders - John Pesutto and Brad Battin - didn't.
"I'm saying to my colleagues that I'm in a seat that crosses the divide. We've got the electoral success story of the country part of seat, and the challenges of more metro demographic around Torquay," he said.
Both Mr Pesutto (Hawthorn) and Mr Battin (Berwick) represent Melbourne electorates and Mr Riordan said the party had been "very dominated by thinking and understanding of inner Melbourne".
"The electoral map now tells us clearly that regional Victoria voted very clearly for the Liberal party, all those country independents are gone," he said.
"We also increased our vote in Malvern, Caulfield and Hawthorn, but when you move out to the next rung of seats it's not resonating."
Mr Riordan also said Labor still dominated the vote in Melbourne's ethnically diverse outer suburbs, which had to change for the Liberals to stand any chance in 2026.
"We need to broaden our appeal, talk to new audiences and find the message that works for them," he said.
"There are so many community groups who aren't even aware the Liberal party exists."
He said despite the poor statewide result and a refreshed Labor ministry, he was confident about the next election.
"In four years time we are going to have a government handcuffed with massive debt that has had to deliver on some hugely expensive promises, so we will have plenty to aim at," he said.
"But we need to stake out clear positions on things like energy, debt and infrastructure now, and start talking to those key communities from day one. We need to make a case for how life is going to be different for people in those places."
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