The race to replace Joe Anderson as Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Liverpool is officially underway.
This week Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee signed off on plans that got the process started and could see a new candidate in place by early March.
Mayor Anderson has been suspended by the party after he was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation as part of Merseyside Police’s Operation Aloft.
Having led the city for the past ten years, Mr Anderson has accepted he will not now be Labour’s candidate going into this year’s elections, with his current bail period stretching well into next month.
As such the ruling group will need a new candidate – and that process officially kicked off after Thursday’s NEC meeting.
And Labour members in the city will be the ones who get to decide who will represent them at the ballot box in May – provided elections take place as planned.
Mayor Anderson had been selected by members to fight for a third term before the dramatic events unfolded in December, so Labour now need to move quickly to get a replacement in place.
Nominations for the post opened on Friday and should remain open for around a week.
Applications will then be reviewed by the party and its NEC before an interviewing process gets underway at the start of February.
Once a shortlist of potential candidates is agreed, there will be around two weeks of campaigning before ballots are opened on a One Member One Vote basis.
It is expected that Labour’s new candidate will be announced in early March.
So far only Deputy Mayor and current Acting Mayor Wendy Simon – and little known former Hackney Councillor Jon Burke – have officially said they will be running for the nomination.
It is expected that Joe Anderson’s former Deputy Mayor, Cllr Ann O’Byrne – who quit his cabinet in 2018 in protest at his leadership – will join the race soon.
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Current cabinet member Cllr Barry Kushner is also thought to be weighing up a run.
The ECHO understands that former Labour MEP Theresa Griffin, whose name has been mentioned as a potential candidate, is unlikely to enter the race.
Joe Anderson remains away from his decision making duties at the council and on a period of unpaid leave.