Today was the day of the ballot paper draw for the Victorian state by-election for Daniel Andrews’ old seat of Mulgrave, to be held a fortnight from Saturday on November 18, an occasion I have marked with the publication of my by-election guide. Ten candidates have nominated, a substantial field by normal standards but not a match for the thirteen challengers Andrews attracted last November.
For what it’s worth, independent Ian Cook drew highest out of the fancied contenders at number three, followed by Liberal candidate Courtney Mann at five and Labor candidate Eden Foster at eight. This will be the first outing for the Liberal Democrats under their new name of Libertarians, and their candidate has drawn top position on the ballot paper. The party under its old name could count on a major spike in its vote if the ballot paper gave it greater prominence than the other Liberal party – we will see what happens this time.
This is Victoria’s third state electoral event since Labor’s re-election in November last year, following the supplementary election for Narracan in January (required due to the death of a candidate during the campaign period before the election) and the Warrandyte by-election in August, neither of which were contested by Labor. This time both Labor and Liberal are in the field, as is independent Ian Cook, who made it to the final preference count and slightly outpolled the Liberals on the primary vote.
Ignoring Jeff Kennett’s argument that the party should give Cook a clear run, the Liberals have preselected Courtney Mann, policy adviser to state leader John Pesutto. The Donald Trump-admiring candidate from 2022, Michael Piastrino, responded to Mann’s preselection by endorsing Ian Cook, his own favoured preselection contender having been overlooked. Whoever out of the two makes the final count will need a swing of 10% to 11% to defeat Labor, whose candidate is Eden Foster, clinical psychologist and mayor of Greater Dandenong.