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‘Teal’ candidate named for prized Vic seat

A three-way stoush is brewing over a prized seat in Melbourne’s inner east after a “teal” candidate officially threw her hat into the ring.

Swinburne University programs manager Melissa Lowe, 52, will represent the so-called “teal” brigade in Hawthorn at the November state election.

The seat is in traditional Liberal heartland but held by Labor’s John Kennedy on a razor-thin margin of 0.42 per cent after his stunning upset in 2018 over then shadow attorney-general John Pesutto.

Mr Pesutto, a former Victorian deputy Liberal leader, is vying to reclaim the seat after four years in the political wilderness.

It sits entirely within the federal electorate of Kooyong, where high-profile “teal” independent Monique Ryan ousted sitting treasurer and local Liberal member Josh Frydenberg in May.

Ms Lowe was inspired to put her hand up following Dr Ryan’s campaign, saying she had previously been “politically homeless” for most of her adult life.

“The community independent movement brought a hope of better political representation to the local area,” she said in a statement on Thursday.

The mother of two has been a local in the area for more than 17 years and holds a masters in public policy.

She lists action on climate change, restoring integrity in politics and fostering a strong economy as her main priorities.

Her campaign director Brent Hodgson, who was part of Dr Ryan’s push to Canberra, is confident his team can replicate results from May.

“Hawthorn sits at the epicentre of the federal ‘teal wave’ … recent polling suggests this result can be repeated at a state level,” he said.

A raft of independent candidates have been named in recent weeks, including project manager Sophie Torney in nearby Kew, former mayor Felicity Frederico in Brighton and lawyer and journalist Nomi Kaltmann in Caulfield.

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