BENALLA physiotherapist Tony Schneider has emerged as the front-runner to be the Liberal Party candidate in the newly created seat of Euroa at the November state poll.
Mr Schneider has been the Indi federal electorate conference chairman since 2010 and is set to be endorsed as the Liberal candidate after the party confirmed its plan to stage a three-cornered contest in the seat.
The move has rankled Coalition partner The Nationals.
Mr Schneider has worked closely with former member for Indi Sophie Mirabella in recent federal campaigns, including her defeat at the hands of independent, Cathy McGowan, last September.
Mr Schneider couldn’t be contacted for comment last night, but a party source said he would make a “fantastic candidate”.
“He is widely respected by all party members and the community in which he has lived and grown his business and employed local people,” the source said.
“Having served in senior party roles locally, Tony has been a constant source of wise counsel.
“Being from Benalla, which is close to, or if not, the biggest population centre in the Euroa electorate, he can’t be without a great chance of winning the seat.”
Victorian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan yesterday accused the Liberals of ignoring the Coalition agreement by running a candidate in Euroa against The Nationals’ Stephanie Ryan.
The current seat of Benalla is held by retiring National Party member Bill Sykes, who has his electoral office located in the city.
Benalla remains the biggest population centre in the Euroa electorate, which falls largely into the Indi federal electorate.
But the towns of Bright, Myrtleford, Glenrowan and ski resorts Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain have been switched to Ovens, which National Tim McCurdy will attempt to retain in November.
Ms Ryan, who is a former journalist originally from Murchison, has worked for both Coalition partners.
Last week Mr Schneider hotly disputed any Liberal involvement in a Voices 4 Indi forum at Oxley after claims from organisers party members would attend.