Christian Porter will have to fend off a fierce grassroots backlash if he is to successfully transplant his political career from Perth to Canberra.
_The West Australian _has been told that Liberal Party members in the division of Pearce resent Mr Porter being foisted upon them as their Federal candidate without any groundwork.
But Mr Porter is likely to prevail even if he is rejected by local preselectors because party powerbrokers feel they cannot afford to "burn" a man seen as a rising star.
Mr Porter's bombshell resignation as State Treasurer and Attorney-General on Tuesday to pursue a career as a Federal politician meant the 41-year-old sacrificed the prospect of becoming premier.
Many Liberals remain furious at Mr Porter for leaving the State Government in the lurch but some have directed their anger at Mathias Cormann. Senator Cormann has insisted to colleagues that the first he knew of Mr Porter's switch was on Monday evening.
But _The West Australian _ understands the Liberal powerbroker knew of the move late last week.
It is understood that Senator Cormann, who had been promoting 24-year-old trademark lawyer Alex Butterworth for the seat of Pearce, now feels obliged to swing his support behind Mr Porter, a friend for 16 years.
"Alex has worked extremely hard but compared to Christian, he's not in the same street," one Liberal said. Mr Butterworth has decided to fight on, nominating for the July 15 Pearce preselection along with Mr Porter and two locals Bill Crabtree and Rod Henderson.
Until Mr Porter's dramatic entry, the contest was expected to be between Mr Butterworth and Nick Bruining. Mr Bruining pulled out yesterday, deciding that Mr Porter's nomination made the result a fait accompli.
Party sources said that even if Pearce preselectors favoured a local candidate, the party's State Council would likely intervene, as happened in Tangney in 2006 and in 2009 when local preselectors sought to dump sitting MP Dennis Jensen.
Chatter in Liberal circles about Mr Porter's potential replacement in Bateman has also begun.Sources said Bateman could be filled by former Australian Defence Force Lt-Col. Sean L'Estrange, while others named lawyer Simon Creek, who was chairman of Mr Porter's aborted Bateman re-election campaign.
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