The race to succeed Sir Peter Tapsell as Conservative candidate for Louth and Horncastle has entered its final stage. The seat had a 13,871 vote majority in 2010 so the successor will likely be the constituency’s next MP.

Next Monday, local voters will decide the winner at an Open Primary from the four finalists. The contenders are:

  • Victoria Atkins. A criminal prosecutor, specialising in fraud and other complex cases, she stood to be the Gloucestershire PCC in 2012. Having won the first round, she was defeated on preferences in the second round by an Independent candidate. Her website emphasises the practical campaigning experience she gained from the process, and her continued work in the voluntary party including serving as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Policy Forum’s Justice and Home Affairs Group. She has an unusual amount of Open Primary experience from Tonbridge and Malling, Mid Worcestershire and North East Hampshire – perhaps this will be her day.
  • Cllr James Browne. A Borough councillor in Elmbridge and Conservative branch chairman, Cllr Browne is a barrister specialising in housing. For the last five years he has written his own political blog, on which he last week lamented the departure of Owen Paterson in the reshuffle and has previously written sceptically about HS2. He stood against Caroline Flint in the Don Valley in 2001, where he secured a 4 percentage point increase in the Tory vote.
  • Sarah Macken. Currently Chief Executive of ESCO, the industry body for the electronic sytems sector (which is co-chaired by Michael Fallon MP), Macken previously worked at the British Chambers of Commerce. She, too, writes her own blog (and has written occasionally for ConservativeHome) on which, among other things, she expresses her support for Grammar Schools. was the Conservative candidate in East Ham at the 2005 General Election. In 2005 she stood against Stephen Timms in East Ham, where her vote suffered due to an unexpectedly high RESPECT entry into the field.
  • Kelly Smith. An entrepreneur with a background in IT, Smith is the Association Deputy Chairman (Membership and Fundraising) in the neighbouring constituency of Gainsborough. He lost his seat on Lincolnshire County Council last year to Labour after a strong UKIP showing split the vote.