The X factor

The announcement that Senator Nick Xenophon will run a candidate in next year’s Federal election in Mayo could add a significant amount of spice into what are traditionally uneventful affairs.
Apart from one hiccup when the Democrats almost unseated Alexander Downer in 1998, Mayo has remained a relatively safe Liberal seat.
Assuming the Xenophon brand resonates and Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) candidate Rebekha Sharkie polls a reasonable number of votes, then the Saturday night of the 2016 election day could be interesting.
But from where exactly the NXT will draw its votes is a mystery.
Will they take support from The Greens and are disaffected Labor voters likely to be drawn to the Xenophon flame?
Will Tony Abbott supporters, unhappy about the removal of an elected Prime Minister, countenance a dance with the devil?
There are almost as many scenarios as there are voters and the short answer is no-one really knows.
But what the NXT has done is inject an exciting element to the mix.
There was clearly a growing dissatisfaction with Tony Abbott’s administration earlier this year which spooked SA Liberal powerbrokers to back Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministerial challenge.
That fear was based on polling which showed NXT candidates could win a number of Liberal seats – Mayo included.
The stunning turnaround in the polls under Mr Turnbull has changed the game significantly and now marginal Labor politicians are feeling uneasy under the NXT influence.
The chorus of “you don’t know who you’re voting for” with respect to NXT candidates will be heard long and loud from both major Parties. And in that they have a valid point.
Mr Xenophon has only a few months in which to mould his team and he doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to choosing running mates.
His decision to join forces with Ann Bressington in SA politics must rate as one of his biggest political miscalculations.
But his mistakes are far outweighed by his hard work and tenacity.
Mr Xenophon has single-handedly built a reputation for being an approachable, pragmatic, intelligent and genuine man.
He is a fearless supporter of the underdog and fights doggedly for SA.