Fundraising efforts cast a shadow over David Davis’ campaign


Kew incumbent Tim Smith, who leaves the seat after a car crash while driving drunk, came in fourth, raising $ 205,000. Mr. Smith is a polarizing party figure, but even his opponents recognize that he has been a hugely successful fundraiser.

New disclosure rules show that in fiscal 2021, he was the party’s most successful fundraiser, raising $ 101,000 through his fundraising organization, the Kew 500 Club.

Mr. Davis, who would be favored by Mr. Smith to take over, contributed $ 10,000.

Liberal Party rules prevent members from commenting on preselection contests. But behind the scenes, some high-ranking Liberals have voiced concerns that Mr. Davis will not be able to provide the “serious dollars” they say would be needed to take the seat.

Jess Wilson is a Liberal preselection candidate in the once safe Kew seat.
Credit:Young Victorian Liberals / Twitter

They are also concerned that it may appear as an obsolete choice in a seat of changing demographics, with a growing number of relatively young working families relocating to the region.

However, others are adamant that Mr Davis, who is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the upper house, has the experience, local background and strategic skills to retain the crucial seat.

Mr Davis declined to comment, according to party rules. The fundraising spreadsheet has been released by opponents who say a new approach will be needed if the crucial seat is to be retained.

Mr Davis, elected to the upper house of the state parliament some 25 years ago, is considered by some to be a fine political strategist.

In his confidential request for approval, he cited his ability to use the upper house “as a political weapon” as a major achievement in his career. He also draws on his experience.

“As an experienced member of the upper house, I understand how to work with the lower house fundraising campaigns to support them while working on a separate but synergistic fundraising for the upper house,” Mr. Davis.

Kew MP Tim Smith, who will be leaving politics following a drinking and driving incident.

Kew MP Tim Smith, who will be leaving politics following a drinking and driving incident.Credit:Justin mcmanus

Another prominent contender in the screening battle is Business Council of Australia policy director Jess Wilson, who is backed by her former boss, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and also close to Liberal Federal Senator James Paterson.

The ballot will also be contested by Acting Victoria Police Chief Sgt. Felicity Sinfield, construction company executive Lucas Moon, lawyer Monica Clark and construction manager Michael Sabljak.

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A poll of 920 Kew voters by political analysis firm RedBridge in early November, shortly after Mr Smith’s drunk driving incident, placed the Liberal Party’s main vote on the seat at 36 percent (up from 49 percent in 2018), compared to around 29 percent for Labor, 12 percent for Greens and 9.3 percent for a strong independent.

RedBridge director Kosmos Samaras suggested that a two-party preferential vote was tied at 50-50.

Overall, climate change was identified as the biggest problem, but not among liberal voters.

The poll also suggested that selecting a female candidate probably wouldn’t make a big difference to most voters in the electorate. Some 70 percent of people who identified as Liberal voters said selecting more women would make no difference in their vote.


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