THE Port Stephens Liberal Party preselection ballot took an ugly turn last weekend with the circulation of an email alleging a dirty tricks campaign.
The email, a copy of which was sent to the Examiner, makes allegations about candidate Jaimie Abbott's place of residence despite the fact she said in December she lived in Nelson Bay.
It is believed the email was sent to the 38 members deciding on the fate of the two Port Stephens candidates.
Ms Abbott, a RAAF Williamtown public relations officer and former Bob Baldwin staffer, and Port Stephens councillor Ken Jordan put their names forward after the seat was vacated by expelled party MP Craig Baumann.
The Port Stephens Liberal Party selection vote was to be determined in a secret ballot tonight, Wednesday.
The damage to the Liberals on the eve of the Port's most important selection ballot had party members less than impressed.
Nelson Bay branch president Geoff Cavanagh, who had been advocating for a transparent rank and file ballot, said the act of disunity would not look good for the party.
"It is not the ideal situation but once the new candidate is chosen I am confident it will be forgotten and everyone will get behind the candidate in the run-up to the [March 28] election," he said.
"I can say that all Nelson Bay branch members and in fact the majority of party members have conducted themselves in an exemplary manner.
"It's just a shame that not all have acted likewise."
Wednesday night's ballot was determined by 30 Liberal Party members from the Nelson Bay, Medowie and Karuah branches plus eight from the Sydney executive.