Only time will tell just how seriously both the Labor Party and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are going to take their respective tilts for the state seat of Bathurst.
So far, though, the signs are not encouraging for their supporters.
It was more than a year ago now that the SFF told the Western Advocate it would be running a candidate in Bathurst at the next state election, believing they had a real hope of defeating the Nationals’ invumbent, Paul Toole.
SFF leaders had been buoyed by Phil Donato’s success in an Orange by-election in 2016 and by the damage done to the Nationals brand by the failed council amalgamations and bid to ban greyhound racing.
At that stage the SFF’s plan was to preselect a quality candidate more than a year out from the 2019 election and get them active in the community to build a serious profile.
However, as the Western Advocate has previously reported, that search for a candidate proved or difficult than party officials had first hoped and with the state election just eight months away voters still don’t know who the party’s candidate will be.
Curiously, though, the SFF does.
Party officials have confirmed that a candidate has been found but, for reasons best known to themselves, they are not yet ready to announce who it is.
So much for giving the candidate every possible chance to build a profile.
If the SFF was serious, it would have been shouting its candidate’s name from the rooftops the minute he or she was preselected.
It appears to be a similar story with the Labor Party.
Inquiries by the Western Advocate this week to both the local branch and state head office have met only with silence.
Again, why would the identity of a candidate – or, indeed, whether one has yet been collected – be such a secret?
As we have said before, the only winner in all this is Paul Toole.
He already holds the seat of Bathurst with a commanding margin and despite the Nationals’ well-publicised policy stumbles, he retains a strong local following.
Any Labor or SFF candidate hoping to make a dent on Mr Toole’s margin was always going to need every day possible to run their campaign, and every day that passes now is playing right into Mr Toole’s hands.
If opposition parties faced a tough job in Bathurst previously, they are facing an almost insurmounable one now.