Wentworth byelection set for October 20
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Wentworth byelection set for October 20

A date in mid-October has been set for the crucial byelection in Malcolm Turnbull's former seat of Wentworth in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Voters will go to the polls on Saturday, October 20.

While the Liberals have held the seat since the party's inception in 1944, there's no guarantee the government will win given the Canberra bloodletting that saw Mr Turnbull replaced as prime minister.

The women of Wentworth? Katherine O’Regan, Maxine Szramka , Mary-Lou Jarvis and Kerryn Phelps, who is still undecided.

The women of Wentworth? Katherine O’Regan, Maxine Szramka , Mary-Lou Jarvis and Kerryn Phelps, who is still undecided.Credit:Fairfax Media

It comes days after Andrew Bragg pulled out of the preselection race, saying a female should contest the seat for the Liberals.

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Mr Bragg – who had the backing of Malcolm Turnbull and was considered the frontrunner to win the preselection on Thursday night – made the announcement on Facebook on Monday afternoon.

He had commissioned polling in the harbour-side electorate that suggested a woman would be better placed to win.

Andrew Bragg  has pulled out of the race for the seat of Wentworth.

Andrew Bragg has pulled out of the race for the seat of Wentworth. Credit:SMH

Pundits believe a strong independent candidate could succeed meaning the coalition would lose its majority in the federal parliament.

"You'd be foolish to underestimate the significance of the climate issue in relation to that constituency," former Wentworth MP and one-time Liberal leader John Hewson said on Wednesday.

"It's not going to be too difficult for a significant named independent, with strong credentials on climate, for example, to take that seat in a by-election where there's already going to be a very substantial protest vote against the government."

City of Sydney councillor Kerryn Phelps is considering whether to stand as an independent. She has a high profile as a past president of the Australian Medical Association.

Independent Licia Heath has declared her hand and she's backed by state MP Alex Greenwich who on Wednesday told AAP the investment manager was "committed to action on climate change".

In contention for the seat of Wentworth: Peter King, Dave Sharma and Michael Feneley. 

In contention for the seat of Wentworth: Peter King, Dave Sharma and Michael Feneley. Credit:Fairfax Media

Liberal powerbrokers in Canberra are pressuring Wentworth preselectors to pick a woman on Thursday night after Mr Bragg dropped out of the race.

The polling revealed the Liberal primary vote has fallen to 39 per cent from 62 per cent when Mr Turnbull was the local member.

Woollahra councillor Mary-Lou Jarvis and Sydney East Business Chamber chair Katherine O'Regan now stand the best chance of being preselected when 210 Liberal members meet at Easts Rugby Union Club.

Fellow candidate Carrington Brigham this week sent an email to some members asking them to vote on merit and not gender.

"If you believe I am the right person for the job, don't mark me down for my gender," Mr Brigham said in Tuesday's email.

Tim Murray is Labor's candidate for the Wentworth by-election. He's being supported by Mr Turnbull's son Alex Turnbull.

AAP, Fairfax Media