Liberal staffer James Stevens replaces Christopher Pyne as Sturt candidate | Australia news

Political staffer James Stevens has been chosen as the Liberal candidate replacing retiring cabinet minister Christopher Pyne in the South Australian federal seat of Sturt.

Earlier this month Pyne, 51, announced his retirement from politics capping a 26-year parliamentary career in which he rose through the Liberal ranks to his current post of defence minister. He had been the youngest person elected to office when he won the Adelaide seat in 1993.

Stevens, 35, resigned as chief of staff to the South Australian premier, Steven Marshall to run for preselection. He has previously worked for Pyne and has been his campaign manager.

He was also president of the Young Liberals in South Australia from 2004 to 2006.

The Liberal Party holds Sturt by 5.4% following electoral boundary redistribution.

Stevens acknowledged the tough fight ahead to retain the seat for his party.

“It’s going to be quite a challenge because Christoper Pyne has quite a strong personal vote in Sturt,” Stevens told ABC Radio.

“A lot of people who voted for the Liberal party voted for the Liberal party because of him, so I’ve got to gain their trust and work very hard over the next two months.

Stevens, a moderate, was comfortably preselected over two female conservative candidates Joanna Andrew and Deepa Matthew.

The SA Liberals

Congratulations to @James_Stevens on being selected this morning as the candidate for Sturt in the upcoming federal election in front of a full house of party members.

Thank you also to @cpyne on a distinguished career representing the people of Sturt.

March 23, 2019

Labor is running Cressida O’Hanlon as its candidate and if she wins she would be the first ever woman to represent the seat.

Despite pressure for the Liberals to increase its female representation in Canberra, Pyne had insisted his replacement should be selected “entirely on merit”.

While he said it was a decision for party members, Pyne had characterised Stevens as a “very fine individual” with the credentials for the job.

Pyne, who dubbed himself “The Fixer” in 2014, will exit parliament alongside other big names, including his fellow Liberal moderates Julie Bishop and Kelly O’Dwyer, as well as Wayne Swan and Jenny Macklin on the Labor side.

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