The by-election in Enfield follows the announcement of former Deputy Premier John Rau's retirement on December 9, which was made three days after the retirement of former Premier Jay Weatherill, initiating simultaneous by-elections for Enfield and Weatherill's seat of Cheltenham. Neither by-election is being contested by the Liberals.
Enfield is bounded to the north by Grand Junction Road, Enfield extends from Kilburn in the west through Enfield itself to Northgate in the east. Taken together with the electorate of Ross Smith, as it was known prior to 2002, Enfield has existed since 1956, in which time it has had four Labor members: Jack Jennings until 1977; John Bannon from 1977 to 1993, including through his stint as Premier from 1982 to 1992; Ralph Clarke from 1993 to 2002; and John Rau thereafter.
Ralph Clarke served as Labor's deputy leader from 1994, but lost the position in 1997 after falling foul of changing factional fortunes. A particularly brazen branch-stacking operation inspired him to take legal action against the party ahead of the 2002 election, resulting in a series of landmark legal victories that established the right of courts to intervene in internal party matters. A secret ballot of de-stacked local branches indicated 60 out of 74 members with voting rights supported Clarke, but the state executive intervened to install John Rau.
Clarke attempted to hold the seat in 2002 as an independent, but he narrowly failed to pip the Liberal candidate into third place. John Rau had a secure hold on the seat, retaining a double-digit margin even after a 14.0% swing to the Liberals in 2010, before the margin was pared back by a redistribution that shifted the seat eastwards.
Labor's new candidate is Andrea Michaels, a commercial lawyer who won preselection with the backing of the Right. This maintained the factional balance of the two preselections, in which Enfield and Cheltenham have respectively remained with the Right and Left. Tom Richardson of InDaily reported the faction's “inner sanctum”, including party leader Peter Malinauskas, party secretary Reggie Martin and Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association secretary Sonia Romeo, gave decisive support to Michaels over rival aspirants Lucy Hood, a ministerial adviser, and Jo Chapley, lawyer for the Foodland supermarket chain and former candidate for Adelaide and Dunstan.
Four independent candidates include Gary Johanson, a former Port Adelaide-Enfield mayor who has contested Lee once and Port Adelaide twice, coming within 2.9% of winning the latter seat at a by-election in February 2012. Another is Saru Rana, a high school teacher who is branding herself as an independent Liberal. The field contains two further independents, Mansoor Hashimi and Amrik Thandi, along with Sebastian Konyn of the Greens and Stephen Humble of the Liberal Democrats.