O'Dowd defeats Churchill in Flynn battle
THE battle might be over but the war is far from won for Ken O'Dowd after he survived a challenge from Gladstone Region councillor Glenn Churchill to claim LNP pre-selection for Flynn.
However Mr O'Dowd, who has held the seat of Flynn since 2010, faces another stern test in the form of Labor candidate for Flynn, Zac Beers.
Approximately 150 LNP members from five branches across Central Queensland - Mundubbera, Biloela, Emerald, Gracemere and Gladstone - cast their vote across the weekend with the result returning in Mr O'Dowd's favour.
The result was only decided late Sunday afternoon, although the margin of victory is likely to never come to light as party rules prevent it being made public.
Having been through three elections - 2010, 2013 and 2016 - Mr O'Dowd is accustomed to the nail-biting nature that comes with waiting for votes to be counted and it was no different during the pre-selection process.
"There's always the thought of not knowing if the people in the room have voted for you," he said.
"People are generally courteous and always very pleasant but you still don't know."
The pre-selection battle was the first time Mr O'Dowd had faced such a challenge.
"It came out of the blue a little bit, but the LNP have changed their policy in inviting people to stand against sitting members," he said.
"You know how many have voted, but those envelopes are sealed and not opened to the last meeting."
Mr O'Dowd had some powerful allies by his side during the final voting phase in Gladstone with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Senator Matt Canavan joining the Flynn MP.
Mr McCormack said the result confirmed the LNP's faith in Mr O'Dowd.
"You see some members talk a big game and then they're rarely seen or heard," he said.
"Ken fights hard and that's been acknowledged by the LNP members. It now needs to be acknowledged by the voters of Flynn.
"He said in his maiden speech he's a bit of a bulldog and there's a lot of fight in the dog and he'll continue on."
Unable to comment prior to pre-selection, citing party rules which forbid candidates from making public comments about the process, Cr Churchill finally lifted the lid on his decision to challenge Mr O'Dowd.
"I was pleased, proud and humbled I was at least given the opportunity to appear before the members of the LNP to pitch my pre-selection address. I've been speaking to people every day from all walks of life, from media to industry leaders, government representatives, volunteers, various people and they were all giving me the same message that they wanted an option, a different choice.
"They asked me to put my hand up and that's what I did. It wasn't about a contest in my opinion, this was a healthy democratic process.
"It's a great example of democracy at its best and its finest."
Cr Churchill wished Mr O'Dowd luck in the election.