Bega MP Andrew Constance has withdrawn his name from consideration in an Eden-Monaro by-election less than 24 hours after pledging he would run for the federal seat.
In a dramatic turnabout, Mr Constance on Wednesday morning released a statement acknowledging people may be confused by his actions, but that he wished to remain focused on bushfire recovery in his current electorate.
It followed a frantic morning in the Twitter-sphere with political commentators and media outlets all speculating on rumours the state Liberal MP and NSW Transport and Roads Minister was withdrawing.
"I wish to let people know I have decided not to contest Liberal Party pre-selection for the seat of Eden-Monaro," Mr Constance said in a statement.
"I need to remain focused on the bushfire recovery and be grateful for the opportunities I already have.
"The community's needs at this difficult time must be the centre of the campaign.
"I appreciate people will be confused by my actions over the past couple of days, and for that I am sorry.
"I also have unfinished business as Transport and Roads Minister. I want to deliver crucial life-saving reforms in road safety and a safer, cleaner future in public transport.
"I want to thank the Premier for her incredible support and will continue to lead the bushfire recovery in my community by working with her, Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and the recovery coordinators Dick Adams and Andrew Colvin
"As Bega MP I will be supporting the Liberal campaign and ask the people of Eden Monaro to reflect on the benefits of having a member of the Federal Liberal Government."
Bega Valley councillor Kristy McBain is Labor's candidate for the by-election, while Liberal candidate at the 2019 election Fiona Kotvojs has already nominated for her party's pre-selection process. Nominations close on Friday.
Liberal Senator Jim Molan, whose name was put forward by several commentators as another potential Eden-Monaro candidate, stated on Wednesday he would not stand.
He said he had not been intimidated into the decision, but that an upcoming surgery - "put off for the last year because of politics" - played a large part.
"It is my belief that the most important contribution I can make to the Morrison Government, and to serve the people of New South Wales who supported me so strongly, is to continue to engage on national security and sovereignty issues in the Senate," Senator Molan said.
"I thank colleagues and supporters who have suggested to me that I may be the right person to put myself forward to represent the people and communities of Eden-Monaro, to fight for their views in recovering from both bushfire and COVID-19, and to represent their interests in Canberra."
NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier John Barilaro had earlier ended speculation on his own tilt for the federal seat in an emotional Monday morning press conference.
Following Mr Constance's announcement on Wednesday, Mr Barilaro reiterated to ACM he would not be standing for the federal seat, and his decision had nothing to do with Mr Constance's plans.