Electoral aces often end up joker in pack
Maxine McKew ... her star power was instrumental to knocking off the Howard government in the 2007 "Ruddslide" election. Photo: Janie Barrett
The immediate electoral advantage of attracting candidates with established public profiles is obvious enough for political parties, especially when it can mean the difference between winning and losing in key contests.
In a game where being noticed is at least half the battle, someone who voters already know, and perhaps even like, enters the race with a big head start.
But the actual record of achievement of so-called celebrity candidates is surprisingly patchy and, in some cases, has proved downright disastrous.
The voters of John Howard's former seat of Bennelong know this well, having succumbed to the allure of the high-profile television journalist-turned ALP politician Maxine McKew.
Her star power was instrumental not only in knocking off the Howard government in the 2007 ''Ruddslide'' election but in summarily ending the parliamentary career of Mr Howard himself.
But, after a difficult adjustment process in which she went from watching to doing, Ms McKew was bested in the 2010 election by another headline grabber, former tennis star and commentator John Alexander.
Sports stars are always popular because they come with ready-made profiles, often some degree of media training and a need to do something meaningful when their sports career is over.
But transitioning from post-match interviews to the far trickier terrain of political battle is no small thing.
Questions come on everything from detailed economic issues to perilous foreign policy questions and divisive social and moral dilemmas.
The most graphic example of this experiential gulf is the case of former rugby league legend Mal Meninga. The hugely popular former Canberra Raider entered the records in 2001 for the shortest political career ever by announcing his candidacy for the ACT Legislative Assembly and then abandoning it in the same live interview.
In the 2007 federal election, Labor's intended coup of attracting Nicole Cornes to run in Boothby also flopped badly. As the glamorous wife of former Adelaide Crows coach and football legend Graham Cornes, she attracted attention for the wrong reasons when she could not articulate party policy.
Labor's coup of enticing Cheryl Kernot to defect from the Democrats went well initially but ended in tears.
High-profile business types have not always succeeded, either. Unlike Malcolm Turnbull, John Elliott and Clive Palmer have talked big but failed to fire.