Sandra McCarthy challenges Matt Brown for Kiama

Updated November 5 2012 - 2:30pm, first published January 30 2011 - 11:18pm
Kiama Mayor Sandra McCarthy.
Member for Kiama Matt Brown

Labor MP Matt Brown’s political career hangs in the balance as popular Kiama Mayor Sandra McCarthy is tipped to announce she will contest the seat of Kiama in March.Speculation has been rife Councillor McCarthy would make a run for the seat, held by Mr Brown, but the Mayor has consistently refused to reveal her intentions.Cr McCarthy was unavailable for comment yesterday, but the Mercury understands an announcement is likely within days.What impact Cr McCarthy's presence on the ballot paper will have remains to be seen, but it could be yet another blow to the Labor Party's chances in the Illawarra.Former South Coast independent MP John Hatton said if she decided to stand, Cr McCarthy would be a threat to both major parties.Labor is tipped to lose Heathcote and faces a strong challenge in the seats of Keira and Wollongong.Kiama, held by former minister Matt Brown with a margin of 12 per cent, is classified as a safe Labor seat.But the electorate has long been identified as a key target by the NSW Opposition, and ABC election analyst Antony Green has declared the seat a "likely Liberal gain".Mr Brown is being challenged by Liberal candidate Gareth Ward, Greens candidate Ben van der Wijngaart and independent Adrian Daly.Cr van der Wijngaart, who is Kiama's deputy mayor, said a decision on whether Greens preferences would be directed to Cr McCarthy would not be made until the election writs were issued.Cr McCarthy stood for Labor Party preselection for Kiama in 1999, but narrowly lost out to Mr Brown.She was controversially expelled from the Labor Party in 2000 when she was elected Kiama's mayor after accepting the nomination of Kiama's independent councillors. She defeated Joyce Wheatley, the ALP-endorsed candidate and Kiama's mayor of eight years in the process.In 1998, as the ALP's Gilmore candidate, Cr McCarthy came as close as any candidate has to ousting the now long-serving Liberal MP Joanna Gash.

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