WHAT started as a whisper ended with a bang.
Cathy McGowan was barely a blip on the national media's radar when she announced her tilt at federal politics prior to the 2013 election.
It was the opposite story on Monday morning, when the independent MP announced she would not be contesting the May vote, handing the reins as ‘orange independent’ to Wangaratta's Dr Helen Haines.
Ms McGowan's decision attracted a huge media scrum and made national headlines, continuing to thrust Indi into the spotlight as the 2019 election draws closer.
The two-term MP undoubtedly changed the political landscape in her electorate with the Voices for Indi group, but further afield as well.
Similar campaigns have emerged in Tony Abbott's seat of Warringah, and in neighbouring electorate Farrer, which is held by longtime Liberal Sussan Ley.
With the incumbent’s departure, the next election will be Voices for Indi's biggest test.
Ms McGowan won the seat in 2016 on a comfortable 4.8 percent margin, but plenty has changed since.
This time, not only will Voices for Indi have to put in work introducing Dr Haines, a first-time political candidate, to the electorate, they also face increased competition from the major parties.
Liberal challenger Steve Martin fits the bill for a party looking to regain control of what once was a traditionally safe seat.
The Nationals, too, could potentially run a compelling candidate should Bridget McKenzie throw her hat into the ring – though the party is on the nose after a series of scandals.
Ms McGowan’s campaign changed what was possible for an independent candidate in 2013. Whether that remains the case for Dr Haines, only time will tell.