Liberal Party hopes to preselect candidate for Bendigo West by the end of August

The Liberal Party hopes to preselect a candidate for the seat of Bendigo West by the end of the month after a number of potential suitors decided not to run.

Its understood a number of party members actively discussed nominating for endorsement with party hierarchy but no one followed through.

Despite being just under four months from the state election, a Liberal Party spokesperson said it will run a candidate in the seat, which incumbent Labor MP Maree Edwards holds by a margin of 12 per cent.

“Bendigo has been neglected by the Andrews Labor government and we are looking forward to finalising the preselection process for Bendigo West later this month,” he said.

Nomination applications will now close on August 30 at 12pm.

A political source, who requested to remain anonymous, said finances and the margin held by Ms Edwards were contributing to the delay.

“The Liberal Party doesn’t have truckloads of union money to bankroll campaigns – so it’s a lot of fundraising,” he said.

“The reality is there is a high cost involved in running the campaign if you’re not in government or incumbent.”

Bendigo’s media landscape – two newspapers and TV news channels, coupled with local radio – made running a campaign more expensive than in seats with less local media, he said.

“If you want to get your message out that’s quite an expense,” he said.

“If the momentum is going your way then you’ll find the party might put some more (money) in but the majority of the heavy lifting you've got to do yourself.”

He said the voting public expected to see a contest or a certain amount of presence from the major parties.

The Nationals, who confirmed former radio presenter Gaelle Broad as a candidate for Bendigo East in March, are still undecided on whether to contest the seat of Bendigo West.

The Australian Country Alliance, who fielded two candidates in the 2014 state election, said it had no plans to run candidates in either Bendigo seat at this stage.

The Greens announced former Bendigo mayor Laurie Whelan as a candidate for Bendigo West and La Trobe University psychology graduate Nakita Thomson for Bendigo East in July. 

Reacting to the announcement last month, Maree Edwards said it was positive to see at least one candidate announced by another party.

“At least one party is interested in the seat,” she said.