THE race to become Newcastle's next state MP is wide open with the next election 10 months away.
Last week the sitting member for Newcastle Tim Owen announced he would not recontest the seat at the election, scheduled for March 28.
Mr Owen said it was "highly likely" that prohibited donors had contributed to his 2011 election campaign without his knowledge and that he felt "undermined" by members of his own party.
Mr Owen said he would not recontest the seat, amid Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations into prohibited donations to the Liberal Party by developers, as well as health concerns.
Former Newcastle MP Jodi McKay gave evidence at the ICAC inquiry earlier this month, saying Nathan Tinkler tried to bribe her in the lead-up to the 2011 election.
ICAC has also heard allegations that Mr Tinkler's property development group Buildev donated $66,000 to a secret Liberal Party slush fund before the 2011 election.
In other recent developments, Newcastle City councillor Tim Crakanthorp defeated fellow councillor Nuatali Nelmes in Labor's rank-and-file preselection vote, with 60 per cent of the vote.
Cr Crakanthorp said as state member he would focus on health, education and transport in Newcastle, and for a "fair share" of the Newcastle port lease funds.
Former Liberal federal candidate Jaimie Abbott has been tipped as the frontrunner to stand in Mr Owen's absence, but has not decided whether to stand.