Milton real estate agent Grant Schultz came up trumps at the Liberal Party endorsement meeting in Bomaderry tonight.
At the Bomaderry Bowling Club, his peers overwhelmingly backed him in, 40 ‘yes’ votes to nine ‘no’ votes.
Mr Schultz made a presentation to Gilmore Liberal Party preselectors, and was asked to leave the room while members voted.
It was a nervous 15-minute wait for Mr Schultz and his wife Rebecca Cameron, also a prominent Milton businessperson, both remaining outside of the function room.
Mr Schultz chatted with his wife, paced from one side of the room to another several times, sat down for a while and then stood alone, clipboard in hand, hopeful for a favourable result.
Mr Schultz was called back into the room. The formalities ended and party members dispersed, most unable to contain their excitement after a prolonged period without a candidate to support.
A few people left the club but most remained there to catch up with friends.
There was a distinct difference in demeanour among those who remained.
A sombre gathering of about nine party members were seated around a table at the bistro.
The majority of people, who were in better spirits, were talking near the bar. Among them was Mr Schultz, who seemed relieved.
He told the South Coast Register he would be able to speak publicly about his intentions for Gilmore once the Liberal Party state executive had formally endorsed him.
According to a number of Liberal Party sources, the result was a blow to former Gilmore MP and Shoalhaven Councillor Joanna Gash.
Cr Gash would not comment publicly on the preselection process.
However, a senior party member told the Register she was less than impressed.
“After the meeting Jo was asked, ‘How are you?’ and she said, ‘I’m pissed off,’” they said.