Former New South Wales premier Kristina Keneally is set to replace embattled Labor powerbroker Sam Dastyari in the Senate.
The American-born media commentator is expected to be sworn in when federal parliament resumes in February.
The 49-year-old Sydney woman has a clear run to succeed Mr Dastyari after her key rival in Labor’s dominant Right faction, Transport Workers’ Union secretary Tony Sheldon, pulled out of contention.
United Voice union leader Tara Moriarty, from the Left faction, also withdrew from the race to replace Mr Dastyari, who quit as a senator in December after it was revealed he had advised a billionaire Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmao his phone might be tapped.
Ms Keneally was a Sky News presenter until November, when she quit the pay-TV channel to run as Labor’s star candidate in the Bennelong by-election against former tennis star John Alexander.
She secured a five per cent swing against the Liberal Party in the northern Sydney election race last month, which was sparked by Mr Alexander’s discovery he was a dual British citizen through his father.
Her decision to stand in a seat Labor has only won once, since it was created in 1949, has won her the backing of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
This could see her quickly elevated to Labor’s opposition frontbench.
FORMER PREMIERS WHO WENT FEDERAL
Bob Carr, NSW Labor Premier 1995-2005. Foreign Minister, 2012-2013
John Fahey, NSW Liberal Premier 1992-1995. Federal Finance Minister, 1996-2001
Carmen Lawrence, WA Labor Premier 1990-1993. Federal Health Minister, 1994-1996
Steele Hall, SA Liberal and Country League Premier 1968-1970. Liberal Senator 1974-1977 and House of Representatives MP 1981-1996
Vince Gair, Queensland Labor Premier 1952-1957. Democratic Labor Party Senator 1965-1974
Jack Lang, NSW Labor Premier 1925-1927 and 1930-1932. Lang Labor House of Representatives MP 1946-1949
Joseph Lyons, Tasmanian Labor Premier 1923-1928. United Australia Party Prime Minister 1932-1939
Ted Theodore, Queensland Labor Premier 1919-1925. Federal Treasurer 1929-1930
This would make her a minister in a federal Labor government.
Ms Keneally would be the first former premier to move into federal politics since Bob Carr served as foreign minister in the Gillard government in 2012 and 2013.
She would also be the fourth former NSW premier to become a federal politician since World War II, following in the political footsteps of Jack Lang and John Fahey.
As a Sky News presenter, Ms Keneally took legal action against former federal Labor leader Mark Latham after he made unflattering comments about her party links with jailed former minister Eddie Obeid.
The Turnbull Government focused on her connections with Obeid during the Bennelong by-election.
Shortly before becoming premier in December 2009, Ms Keneally told parliament: ‘I am nobody’s puppet, I am nobody’s protege, I am nobody’s girl.’
She led NSW Labor to its worst ever defeat at the 2011 state election, which ended 16 years of party rule.