The West

Rising star knows the power of television
Rising star knows the power of television

The image and message said everything you would expect from an election campaign launch.

A young family man holding hands with his wife and three young children and the empathetic "I'm just like you" slogan was all Mark McGowan needed to say to voters on his first unofficial day in the job.

It showed instantly his understanding of the power of television.

An hour before Eric Ripper had officially fallen on his sword, Mr McGowan was selling himself to the WA public without having to say a word.

He can't spell out his manifesto for saving Labor from a crushing defeat at next year's election until he is confirmed as leader by a majority or unanimous vote in a caucus meeting on Monday.

But he knows the role is his and he doesn't want to waste a minute.

When he joined the Labor Party as a 17-year-old, he never dreamed of becoming an opposition leader.

Now is he a 44-year-old man who believes he could become premier.

Labor's internal polling will tell him he's coming off a low base - so low that Mr Ripper was told by some senior colleagues he was at the point of no return.

His message was not being heard. His style wasn't cutting through. His leadership was doomed.

Now, a confident and clever former Royal Australian Navy officer has the chance to come to Labor's rescue. As is often the case, he is there out of necessity and only after consensus.

The party's Right faction was said to be prepared to put up a candidate to challenge Mr McGowan.

But the candidate, Willagee MP Peter Tinley, wasn't ready.

_The West Australian _understands that up until last Friday, when Mr Ripper had his grim meeting with colleagues, he believed he had until June to turn public opinion around.

Now that burden is Mr McGowan's. If his election to the Labor leadership doesn't result in a bounce in the polls for the party by the middle of the year, expect those against his ascendancy to start questioning the move.

The West Australian

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