As a school boy, Adam Marshall told his classmates that he would be Prime Minister one day. Now the 33-year-old NSW tourism minister is being touted as the most likely candidate for the deputy prime minister's seat.
Mr Marshall, who was only promoted to NSW cabinet last year, is tipped to be the Nationals' choice to replace embattled Barnaby Joyce if the Nationals leader is forced to quit Parliament over his affair with a staffer.
Mr Marshall, whose early political career has at times been overshadowed by a chequered driving record, did not rule out a move to Canberra.
"I will not engage in speculation about matters outside my control. I am focused on doing the job I love and feel privileged to have- proudly representing the people of the Northern Tablelands," Mr Marshall said in statement on Tuesday.
Mr Marshall won Northern Tablelands, which overlaps much of Mr Joyce's federal electorate of New England, in a byelection in 2013 after the resignation of independent MP Richard Torbay.
In 2014, Mr Marshall lost his licence for nine months after he was caught drink driving. It was also revealed he had been caught speeding 17 times.
A senior party source described Mr Marshall as a "rising star" with "one of the best political brains in the party room".
"He has a big profile and is well known in the area so he would definitely be the obvious choice because another byelection would be tough for us," the source said.
One Nationals' MP said: "There would not be anyone better for us."
But another party source said he doubted Mr Marshall would be prepared to give up his job as a minister to sit on the backbench in Canberra.
"Timing is everything and would he want to give up what he has now...I'm not so sure," the source said.
Speculation has also turned toward former senator Fiona Nash, who was forced out of politics in October when the High Court delivered its verdict on the citizenship saga.
NSW Nationals were incensed about the party being deprived of a seat, which ended up going to the Liberals and former major-general Jim Molan.
But Ms Nash, who lives in Young, did not respond when asked if she would consider re-entering parliament via the lower house.
Other MPs mentioned as possible replacements include Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and the former water minister Kevin Humphries, who is not contesting the next state election.
The MP for Barwon last year bought a property in Tamworth, inside Mr Joyce's electorate.
Mr Humphries did not return a text message on Tuesday.
Some MPs were predicting Mr Joyce would either ride out the scandal, or at the very least not send voters back to the polls for another by-election so soon after he was re-elected to parliament and before a federal election, due next year.
Relations between the federal and state Nationals parliamentary party rooms are at a low ebb, parliamentary sources say, since MP John Barilaro assumed the state leadership more than one year ago.
Those tensions became public when Mr Barilaro called for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to resign.
Mr Joyce, then in a byelection fight to save his seat after being found ineligible in the citizenship fiasco, responded by saying:
“The worst possible insult in politics is you've done something unhelpful, worse than drowning a dog, worse than murder,” he said. “This is definitely in the category of very unhelpful.”