The Labor stranglehold on Canberra's two lower house seats and expansion of the territory Assembly have added to Liberal Party difficulties in finding candidates for the July federal election.
As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull prepares to call a double dissolution election, the Canberra Liberals have named Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association director Robert Gunning as their candidate for Fenner and lawyer Jessica Adelan-Langford as candidate in Canberra.
Days before the campaign is expected to begin, the party received one nomination for each seat but Mrs Adelan-Langford was found to be invalid because she had not attended a branch meeting in the past three months.
Mr Gunning will be approved by preselectors at a meeting on May 5, while Mrs Adelan-Langford was officially endorsed by the party management committee because no valid nominations were received.
Widely considered unwinnable for the Liberals, Labor MP Andrew Leigh's seat of Fraser - renamed Fenner this year - would need a swing of 12.5 per cent to change hands, when redistribution is factored in. Gai Brodtmann's seat of Canberra requires a 7.4 per cent swing.
The Canberra Times understands that Liberal Senator Zed Seselja took a key role in the recruitment efforts, while some party members said the expanded ACT Assembly ticket had been given priority.
Mr Gunning has lived and worked in Canberra for more than 40 years.
Mrs Adelan-Langford moved to the ACT in 2007. The mother-of-two has completed a law degree at Australian National University, and works in Weston Creek.
Jane Hiatt will join Mr Seselja on the Liberal Senate ticket.
Party president Arthur Potter and ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson both predicted more than 25 candidates would nominate for the Assembly election, but the party received only the minimum number.
Mr Potter said criticism about the federal process was wrong.
"In Fenner, all we can hope to do is reduce the margin," he said.
"We've got a huge number of Liberal voters out there ... but you don't want to underestimate how difficult it is to run a candidate in a seat like that.
"We'd be far better off if the seats in the ACT were more marginal," Mr Potter said. "It serves nobody's purpose to have such safe Labor seats ... who wins from that?"
In NSW, Eden-Monaro Liberal MP Peter Hendy has faced criticism for his support for Tony Abbott's dumping as prime minister last year.
Last month organisers for Dr Hendy asked for volunteers for street stalls during the campaign.
Dr Hendy was part of the so-called "G8" of Liberal MPs who prepared the September challenge with Mr Turnbull, including hosting the group at his Queanbeyan home.
The bellwether seat has been won by the government of the day at every federal election since 1972.
Emails obtained by The Canberra Times show his role in helping organise numbers for Mr Turnbull could cost him some support.
"Count me out," one party member wrote. "Turnbull the back stabber (with Peter Hendy...) climate warmist and just plain soft socialist has caused me to leave the party and lost my family's vote too.
"There are much better alternatives. The bellwether will be interesting."
Another party member said he had told Dr Hendy's office directly that he wouldn't support the campaign and asked to be removed from an internal mailing list.
"Since Hendy was instrumental in the back stabbing of the then PM Tony Abbott, I no longer wish to be a volunteer and he has lost my family's vote and confidence to be a worthy representative of Eden-Monaro."
One source described the campaign as "imploding", a suggestion the Assistant Cabinet Secretary and Assistant Finance Minister rejected.
"I have strong support from the ACT Liberals, including Jeremy Hanson and Zed Seselja," he said.
"There are a large number of ACT Liberals supporting the Eden-Monaro campaign.
"The volunteer network from Eden-Monaro, which is by far the largest component of our campaign, is as strong as ever."
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