BARNABY Joyce is shaping up as the red-hot favourite to win the lower house seat of New England after Tony Windsor decided to step down.
At this stage, Senator Joyce is in a two-man race with 21st Century Australia Party leader Jamie McIntyre, with the ALP, Greens and Katter's Australia Party yet to declare candidates for the seat.
While Senator Joyce was expected to have a close fight with long-time incumbent independent Tony Windsor, the announcement by Mr Windsor that he would not contest the election could leave the seat open to the Nationals.
Standing in Senator Joyce’s way is Mr McIntyre who has produced a large amount of promotional material about his newly formed party, which he claims “will overhaul an out-dated 19th-century political system that needs to be modernised for the 21st century”.
Senator Joyce said last week he would continue to campaign at a grassroots level in the electorate despite Mr Windsor's announcement.
“Country people can smell conceit at a hundred yards, and the second I start taking anything for granted they're going to be on to me,” he said.
But Senator Joyce said he would also be campaigning outside the electorate in his role as opposition spokesman for local government.
Mr McIntyre is not conceding defeat however, saying he is confident he can topple Senator Joyce.
He said that many people including Senator Joyce and especially media company News Corp who he refers to as “arrogant media”, have already concluded that the Nationals will win New England.
“I plan on making politics more interesting and engaging for the voters, the Nationals have had long enough to deliver and haven’t, it is time to break the habit and vote for something different,” Mr McIntyre said.
Mr McIntyre claims that a poll commissioned by his party indicated 62 per cent of voters were now undecided after Mr Windsor’s decision not to contest.
“We are expecting to get a proportion of those swinging votes now people have a different choice,” Mr McIntyre said.