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'Lionise Kevin' says Rudd supporter
As Kevin Rudd leaves federal politics, will his party look beyond years of bruising leadership fights and install his as a Labor great?
Jessica Rudd has ruled herself out of consideration as a possible replacement for her father Kevin Rudd who resigns from Parliament at the end of the week.
Speculation over Ms Rudd’s potential candidacy exploded in Canberra on Thursday after senior Labor sources claimed Mr Rudd had backed his daughter’s entry to Federal Parliament via his south Brisbane seat of Griffith.
A senior source has claimed Mr Rudd, had already sought and received assurances from key power brokers to have Jessica anointed as his replacement in a bid to hold the seat for Labor in what is expected to be a difficult byelection for Labor.
Labor sources on the ground in Brisbane said the idea made a lot of sense because Ms Rudd offered the party perhaps the best chance of retaining the seat that Mr Rudd had held at the September poll by a narrow margin of just 3 per cent.
A source said the understanding was that Mr Rudd had “struck a deal” to get Jessica pre-selected.
The insider told Fairfax Media that Mr Rudd was encouraged to retire as soon as possible but had indicated he wouldn’t go until he had “looked after” Griffith.
“He’s done some deal to get Jessica pre-selected,” the source said.
“We don’t know what that will mean for grassroots pre-selection. But Kevin wants to get Jessica up.”
Other party sources were unaware of the speculation, although one senior Labor operative confirmed the rumours.
“That’s what Kevin wants and he has probably gotten his way.”
A senior Labor official in Mr Rudd’s electorate, refused to be drawn on the speculation but encouraged Ms Rudd to ‘‘throw her hat in the ring’’ along with as many other hopefuls as wanted to.
Another strategist conceded Ms Rudd’s candidacy, were it to come about, might be the only way to ensure the former Labor jewel is not lost to the LNP, whose high profile candidate, Bill Glasson, performed strongly at the September general election.
Strategists on both sides of politics have been eyeing the Griffith electorate given an expectation that the former prime minister might pull the pin on his parliamentary career at some point during the current term.
Ms Rudd, 30, is married and currently lives in Beijing.
However sources close to the former prime minister emphatically denied he was interested in seeing Jessica take over, and in fact was on the record as favouring a full open pre-selection process.
‘‘It is total bullshit,’’ said one.
The confidant said it was also the case that Mr Rudd had made clear that he favoured another candidate, with his daughter not even in considerations.
I'm flattered to be considered a potential candidate but I spent the morning writing with Josie on our Beijing play-mat surrounded by Duplo.— Jessica Rudd (@Jess_Rudd) November 14, 2013
For now, this is where I belong.— Jessica Rudd (@Jess_Rudd) November 14, 2013
Our local branch members will choose an excellent candidate for this by-election—big boots to fill—and that person can count on my support.— Jessica Rudd (@Jess_Rudd) November 14, 2013
Brisbane industrial lawyer Teri Butler, is considered a strong contender and is expected to put her name forward forcefully.
At least two former state MPs defeated in the last landslide election that installed the Newman LNP government, were also possible contenders.
Early on Thursday afternoon however, Ms Rudd used the micro-blog site, Twitter to end the speculation regarding her own ambitions.
‘‘I'm flattered to be considered a potential candidate but I spent the morning writing with Josie on our Beijing play-mat surrounded by Duplo.’’ she wrote.
‘‘For now, this is where I belong.
‘‘Our local branch members will choose an excellent candidate for this by-election - big boots to fill - and that person can count on my support.’’