Wealden Conservatives have published the names of the final four candidates who will be going into their Open Primary on 5th December (registration details here).

The East Sussex seat, held since 2001 by Charles Hendry, had a Conservative majority of 17,179 (31.3 percentage points) at the last election, making it the 21st safest Conservative seat in the country.

The four finalists are:

  • Edward Argar. A Westminster councillor and Cabinet member for City Management, Transport and Environment, he fought the Lib/Lab marginal constituency of Oxford East at the 2010 General Election, where he increased the Conservative vote share by 1.5 percentage points. Before moving to a career in the private sector, he worked for Michael Ancram when he was Shadow Foreign Secretary. Argar has made the final round in several seats in recent weeks, and has Open Primary experience as a result.
  • Tony Caldeira. A successful entrepreneur, Caldeira turned the market stall he set up after graduating into a global textiles company with £20m annual sales. He has chaired Liverpool Conservatives for several years, stating on his website that his campaigning in 2010 saw the Tory vote on Merseyside increase by over 50 per cent. Last year he was the Conservative candidate for Liverpool’s directly elected mayoralty, but came 8th.
  • Helen Whately.  A management consultant, Whately stood against Ed Davey in Kingston and Surbiton in 2010, where she increased the Tory vote share by 3.5 percentage points. Having worked at PwC among other firms, she helped launch the first online film service int he UK for AOL, and advised the Conservatives in Opposition on Media policy. She was one of the four competitors in the recent North East Hampshire Open Primary and was longlisted in South East Cambridgeshire.
  • Nusrat Wheeldon. Over recent years, Wheeldon has held a number of high profile roles in the public affairs industry, having worked for the BBC World Service, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, and Age Concern among others. She joined the Conservative Party in 2009, in response to Cameron’s call for would-be candidates, and stepped into the breach when the PPC in Birmingham Ladywood stood down only 100 days before the 2010 election. Despite the short campaign, the Conservative vote share increased by 3.5 percentage points. She has been in the running in two seats in recent weeks under her maiden name, Ghani (perhaps the prospect of pitching to run a ‘Wheeldon for Wealden’ campaign was too good to resist).