ACT Liberal senator Zed Seselja emerged as a leading public face of Peter Dutton's failed attempt to become Prime Minister in the hours before the spill that elevated Scott Morrison to the role.
Senator Seselja made public pitches for the pro-Dutton camp during the conservative insurgency that split the Liberals and brought an end to Malcolm Turnbull's leadership.
His resignation from his assistant ministry on Thursday morning preceded multiple others as senior conservative Liberal MPs abandoned Mr Turnbull and built momentum for a second spill. He joined 43 parliamentary Liberal party members in signing the petition bringing on Friday's vote.
The ACT senator's position within a Morrison government was left undetermined and hanging upon the approach the incoming Prime Minister will take to Mr Dutton's supporters after the Queensland MP's second tilt at the job backfired.
In an appearance on the ABC's 7.30 program on Thursday, Senator Seselja emerged as a national spokesman for Mr Dutton's camp, dismissing questions about the former Home Affairs minister's eligibility to sit in parliament as a "red herring".
He said the Liberal party needed to secure its base, stem the movement of Coalition voters to minor parties like One Nation, and denied the internal campaign to remove Mr Turnbull was driven by revenge, ideology or a dislike of the Prime Minister.
Senator Seselja followed up on Friday morning explaining his support for Mr Dutton to ABC Canberra. He later told The Canberra Times the conservative challenger would help the government connect better with average Australians if he was Prime Minister.
"I think he can connect with people in large parts of Australia," Senator Seselja said.
He predicted that the former Queensland police officer would attract criticism from some quarters because of a perception he was not as visionary as some past prime ministers.
"I'm not going to get into a detailed critique and I'm not in the business of criticising my colleagues, but in the last few years under this government we have started to see some of the support of our traditional supporters erode.
"You can't win an election without your base. It's called a base for a reason and you build on it with other parts of the community, but you need to listen to your traditional supporters."
Senator Seselja said conservative voters were increasingly deserting the Coalition, a situation brought on by the government's indecisiveness on energy policy and its Catholic and independent schools funding model, which he criticised last year.
He referred to the Coalition's byelection loss at Longman as an example of the fall in voter support.
Before the spill, the incoming Prime Minister also gained praise from Senator Seselja, who called both Mr Morrison and fellow leadership contender Julie Bishop "strong performers".
Mr Turnbull marked the end of his leadership on Friday afternoon with parting shots at the "wreckers" he said had brought on the instability, singling out Mr Dutton and Tony Abbott.
Senator Seselja that morning denied playing a part in bringing about disunity in the party ahead of Tuesday's spill, which he described as "a shock to everyone".
He said while he had heard "chatter" that Mr Dutton was considering a challenge, he had not had time to talk to him before voting.
"There was no time," Senator Seselja said.
"It was just brought on."
He voted for the then-Home Affairs minister in Tuesday's Liberal Party leadership spill, won 48-35 by Mr Turnbull. Senator Seselja went on to become a strident supporter of Mr Dutton's.
On Friday morning he said he had declined Mr Turnbull's offer to stay in the ministry because he could not give the Prime Minister a commitment to vote for him in any future leadership contests.