Libs endorse Jaimie Abbott to face Kate Washington in Port Stephens

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Jaimie Abbott with premier Gladys Berejiklian.Jaimie Abbott, the councillor who said last year that she was “ashamed” ofher own party over its handling of the Mambo wetlands sell-off, is the Liberal candidate for the state seat of Port Stephens.
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The party confirmed on Monday that its state executive had endorsed Cr Abbott to take on sitting Labor MP Kate Washingtonon March 23 in an electorateit regards as “gettable”.

Theconfirmation came after theHerald received a copy of the agenda for the Liberal Party state council in Nelson Bay on August 25 listing Cr Abbott as the “candidate for Port Stephens”.

Party sources said Cr Abbott was the only nominee for pre-selection in a seat the Liberals lost to Ms Washington in 2015 with a 19.5 per cent swing. Ms Washington beat Ken Jordan to reclaimPort Stephensfor Labor for the first time since Craig Baumann won it in 2007.

Mr Baumann quit the party in 2015 after admittingto ICACthat he had taken secret donations from developers in 2007 and written sham invoices to cover them up.

Cr Abbott, who ran unsuccessfully against Sharon Claydon in the federal seat of Newcastle in 2013, is expecting her first child in October.

Libs endorse Jaimie Abbott to face Kate Washington in Port Stephens At a public rally against development on the Mambo wetlands in Salamander Bay last year.

On the campaign trail with Tony Abbott before the 2013 federal election.

On the campaign trail with Tony Abbott before the 2013 federal election.

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“I just wanted to nominate, so I nominated, and obviously the party have endorsed me.”

TheHerald reported in 2015 that the process that led to Mr Jordan’s pre-selection over Cr Abbott had caused acrimony in the party’s Port Stephens branch, including accusations that Cr Abbott had been “pressured to back out since the get-go”.

Mr Jordan’s candidacy had been backed by MrBaumann, controversional former mayor Bruce MacKenzie and former federal member for Paterson Bob Baldwin.

The party is holding its state conference in the electorate in what is being interpreted as an effort to boost Cr Abbott’s chances of unseating Ms Washington on March 23.

Cr Abbott posed for photographs with Gladys Berejiklian in June when the premier was in Tea Gardens to announce a million-dollar refurbishment of the local police station.

The Liberals have not opened pre-selection nominations in other Hunter electorates.

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