NSW Labor leadership candidates Jodi McKay and Chris Minns could meet the party rank and file at a Newcastle candidates' forum.
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp has invited the candidates to a forum as Labor members confirm Ms McKay's Hunter history is both a positive and negative in her bid for the leader's job.
Hunter Labor MPs declined to comment about whether Ms McKay's divisive state and federal executive selection in 2006 as Labor's Newcastle candidate would be an issue for some Hunter rank and file members.
But the Newcastle Herald has confirmed some members will not forgive or forget a period that included the expulsion of more than 100 members who backed sitting MP Bryce Gaudry and a rank and file vote.
"It is there. It certainly is still there, but to what degree is the big unknown," said one Labor member who will vote for Ms McKay.
"Her background growing up and working in the Hunter is a definite positive but the way she became the Member (for Newcastle) and what flowed from that, that has left scars, so it's very mixed."
Mr Gaudry, who resigned from Labor to stand against Ms McKay as an independent at the 2007 election, said it was not appropriate for him to comment.
"This is an issue for members of the party and it's not my role to be involved in it. I don't have any personal feelings at all," he said.
Mr Gaudry, who spoke while visiting Uluru for the first time - "It's been on my bucket list" - said the pancreatic cancer he has been battling since 2016 did not affect his interest in politics.
"I'm interested in the whole direction the world is taking in terms of the impact of social media and the rise of the demagogues, which make it a pretty sobering time," he said.
Port Stephens MP Kate Washington, Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison, Swansea MP Yasmin Catley, Wyong MP David Harris, Upper Hunter Labor candidate Melanie Dagg, Auburn MP Lynda Voltz and Labor upper house MP Adam Searle have confirmed their support for Ms McKay.
Ms Aitchison said Ms McKay had proven she is "an ethical strong person who calls out what needs to be called out and that's something we should be rewarding".
"She comes from Gloucester, she knows what it's like to grow up in a regional area and attend a local public school. I think she's the everyperson and I think we need her in a leadership position now," Ms Aitchison said.
Mr Crakanthorp, who is chair of the Labor caucus, said he hoped the two candidates could take up his invitation to speak to the rank and file at a Newcastle candidates' forum, and that other Hunter forums could be held.
"I'd like members to have the opportunity to see what the two possible leaders have to offer the Hunter," Mr Crakanthorp said.
Ms Dagg said she supported Ms McKay because of her strong links to the community and strong performance as a senior NSW Labor parliamentarian.
Federal Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon declined to comment on which candidate she would support, but said she was pleased the leadership vote includes thousands of NSW Labor members.
"Whatever the outcome of the NSW Labor leadership contest, I'm enormously proud that Labor entrusts our rank and file members with this important responsibility. This is the hallmark of a mature political party," Ms Claydon said.
"I look forward to the contest of ideas and know that this open, democratic process can only make our party stronger."
The leadership contest will run while parliament sits.
Fifty MPs in Labor's parliamentary caucus will vote in a ballot on June 29 and their decision will be weighted against the votes of thousands of rank and file members who will have a 50 per cent say in the outcome.
The new NSW Labor leader will be declared on June 30.