Surprise Liberal contenders for Mayo preselection

A senior sports administrator and a conservative staffer have emerged as Liberal Party preselection candidates for the federal seat of Mayo, setting up a three-way contest with city councillor Henry Davis.

Jun 21, 2024, updated Jun 21, 2024
(L-R) Henry Davis, Nathan Godfrey and Zane Basic are vying for Liberal Party preselection to run against Mayo Independent MP Rebekah Sharkie. Photos: supplied

(L-R) Henry Davis, Nathan Godfrey and Zane Basic are vying for Liberal Party preselection to run against Mayo Independent MP Rebekah Sharkie. Photos: supplied

InDaily understands Kangaroo Island marathon founder Nathan Godfrey and former Nicolle Flint staffer Zane Basic have both nominated for preselection in Mayo to take on independent MP Rebekha Sharkie.

Meanwhile, Liberal Party president Rowan Mumford, who was considering a run after encouragement from both factions, will not contest the seat.

The senior Right-faction figure is understood to be still considering whether to renominate for president, a role he has held since September 2022.

One party source said Mumford’s absence has left Davis – the outspoken city councillor who has been foreshadowing his run in Mayo since October 2023 – as “the frontrunner” for preselection, but another source said all three candidates would be competitive.

Mumford said the Liberal Party was currently undertaking its candidate review process in Mayo.

“No applicants have yet completed this stage and no date for an Electoral College has been set,” he said in a statement.

“At the appropriate stage and if required, the College will be convened and the successful preselected candidate will be announced in the weeks ahead.”

Godfrey is currently a general manager at Football Australia and has held senior commercial roles with the Adelaide Football Club and A-League Club Wellington Phoenix.

He is also a former CEO of Canterbury Rugby Union – a provincial body of New Zealand rugby – and a former public servant with the New South Wales Office of Sport. He founded the KI Marathon in 2015.

Nathan Godfrey

Nathan Godfrey watching a game of rugby in Christchurch with wife Heike Jensen and their daughter. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Sportswikifan

Godfrey’s nomination has taken some party insiders by surprise, with his factional leanings and links to the party relatively unknown. He confirmed his nomination to InDaily on Thursday but declined to comment further.

Basic, meanwhile, is firmly within the Right faction and is understood to have the backing of conservative leader and senator Alex Antic.

One source familiar with the Mayo Federal Electorate Convention (FEC) said Basic may be the favourite for preselection after the FEC underwent a conservative takeover at its annual general meeting last Sunday.

The takeover saw the Right win a “clean sweep” of elections for Mayo FEC president, membership officer and state delegate positions, the source said, adding that attendance at this year’s AGM was “double” that of last year.

The Right’s takeover of the branch is similar to what happened last week in the state seat of Heysen – which sits within Mayo – where leading moderate and former Liberal Minister Stephen Wade’s bid for SEC president was scuppered by a comparatively low-profile conservative candidate.

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Basic, a former construction labourer, is currently a senior adviser to Queensland MP and federal Opposition whip Bert van Manen, splitting time between Adelaide and Canberra. Prior to that, he worked for former Boothby MP Nicolle Flint and state MP Terry Stephens.

Zane Basic

Zane Basic (right) with New York City Council Republican leader Joe Borelli. Photo: Twitter

He has previously been linked with a run for Boothby, where he is president of the local FEC. He also managed Right faction colleague Alex Hyde’s unsuccessful campaign for the state seat of Waite at the 2022 state election.

Basic confirmed his nomination to InDaily but said it was “not appropriate to comment” further.

Davis, meanwhile, was more than happy to comment, telling InDaily he was “very glad to announce that I have nominated to be the Liberal candidate for the Federal seat of Mayo”.

“I love living in Aldgate in the Adelaide Hills with my eight chickens,” he said.

“I have demonstrated that I will fight to protect our personal freedoms and I won’t back down or be intimidated by the Left.

Henry Davis chickens

Henry Davis with one of his chickens in Aldgate. Photo: supplied

“My priorities if elected as the member for Mayo will be tax reform to make it easier on our small businesses and families, ensuring that young families can afford to buy a home, reducing cost of living, key infrastructure throughout Mayo and ensuring we have sustainable healthcare services across the region.”

Davis – who this week received a defamation threat from Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith and last year led a public fight to keep prayer at the start of council meetings – said it would be a “tough fight” to unseat Sharkie “but I believe I can win”.

“I believe I am a strong candidate and I have demonstrated I will fight for my electorate,” he said.

“I also believe I can contribute to cabinet decisions with my understanding of budgeting, governance and our tax system.”

Sharkie has held Mayo since 2016 and has already confirmed she intends to run again.

The Adelaide Hills seat was once the Liberal blue-ribbon stronghold of former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, but Sharkie now holds it on a more than 12 per cent margin.

She gained a 7.1 per cent swing in 2022.

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