Former human rights commissioner Tim Wilson overcame a dirty smear campaign and two formidable opponents to win pre-selection in the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Goldstein in Victoria.
Mr Wilson won a head-to-head contest with former aid worker Dr Denis Dragovic by two votes after lawyer Georgina Downer, daughter of former Federal MP Alexander Downer, had been eliminated in the first round of voting.
In his role of human rights commissioner, openly gay Mr Wilson launched the controversial Safe Schools Coalition.
A four-page scandal sheet, dubbed “grubby and homophobic” by senior Liberals, was posted to party members in the lead-up to the vote, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Mr Wilson was described in the pamphlet as “neither conservative or liberal”, a “proud supporter of the Safe Schools Coalition”.
“Tim is a danger to our families, schools and the local community,” it read.
“Tim’s homosexuality is not the problem. It is his unrelenting campaign for gay rights issues and waste of taxpayers’ money.”
Mr Wilson’s campaign was endorsed by both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor Tony Abbott.
“I have never been so humbled in my life,” Mr Wilson said after winning the candidacy.
“To carry the trust, and to represent the values of the people of Goldstein, is very humbling.”