FORMER Labor MP Jodi McKay tweeted on Monday that she wished she was still representing Newcastle.
But with the seat up for grabs again after Tim Owen’s resignation, Ms McKay yesterday declined to comment on whether she would consider contesting the upcoming byelection.
Ms McKay, who lost her seat to Mr Owen in 2011, gave evidence to the ICAC in May, when she revealed she had refused an alleged bribe from Nathan Tinkler before the election and had reported him to the corruption watchdog.
At the time, Ms McKay said she would ‘‘never’’ return to politics.
Possible replacements for Mr Owen and the member for Charlestown, Andrew Cornwell, who also resigned yesterday, were keeping their heads down.
Names were already swirling among the Liberal Party in Newcastle after Mr Owen previously said he would not recontest his seat in March. But his resignation yesterday had members scrambling to find a candidate after Premier Mike Baird said there would be a byelection.
Newcastle council deputy mayor and head of the Newcastle Liberal Party Brad Luke said he was ‘‘shocked’’ and ‘‘surprised’’ at Mr Owen’s immediate resignation.
Mr Luke ran for pre-selection against Mr Owen at the last state election, but said yesterday he had not made a decision about whether he would run.
Despite previously stating he would not run, former Shortland candidate John Church continues to be mentioned as an option. He was dealing with a family matter, but said he’d comment at a later date.
Former Greens candidate John Sutton said while ‘‘I never say never’’, he did not intend to put himself forward for the seat of Newcastle.
In Charlestown speculation is already rife that two Liberal councillors – Jason Pauling and former Cornwell staffer Robert Denton – could be persuaded to make a run at the seat.
Mr Denton said yesterday he had ‘‘not given any thought to it’’.
Mr Pauling could not be reached for comment.
Newcastle Knights chairman Paul Harragon has ruled himself out.
‘‘I’ve been asked on numerous occasions to enter the political arena over the years, by both sides of politics, and on every occasion I’ve always declined, with thanks,’’ Mr Harragon said last night.
‘‘I don’t want to pursue it.’’