Melanie Gibbons has a battle on her hands to win Liberal Party preselection for Hughes.
The Holsworthy MP appeared a "shoo-in" when Prime Minister Scott Morrison came out in support of her decision to run for the federal seat and gave a glowing reference.
However, Jenny Ware, a Gymea Bay resident and lawyer, has emerged as a strong rival.
Ms Ware has the backing of the party's moderates faction and, according to sources, a high level of support within local branches.
She has been endorsed by Danna Vale, who held Hughes for the Liberal Party from 1996 to 2010 before she retired and Craig Kelly moved in.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman and Heathcote MP Lee Evans are among other supporters.
The right-wing candidate Wade McInerney has withdrawn from the preselection contest.
Ms Ware was a long time Liberal Party member before dropping out and rejoining this year.
A lawyer specialised in planning, environmental, litigation and government law, Ms Ware is at present the director, legal services and general counsel at Georges River Council.
Ms Ware grew up in Cronulla and has lived at Gymea Bay for the last 20 years. She is married with twin teenage sons.
She is a past board member of the Sylvanvale Foundation and past president of Gymea Community Preschool and Gymea Bay P&C. She is still actively involved in softball as a player and committee member.
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