By the end of the first weekend round of Umno Youth divisions meetings on Sunday, Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, the MP for Jerlun, had 40 nominations, more than the minimum 38 he needed to contest the Umno Youth post.
Yet just a week ago, Mukhriz was in second or even third place after deputy Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and another contender former Selangor Mentri Besar Dr Khir Toyo. But the trend seems to have changed since.
Khairy, (picture right) the son-in-law who is his closest rival, trails with 19 nominations, still 20 short of the necessary number to become eligible for candidacy. The only state clearly backing him is Kelantan, which has handed him four out of five nominations to date. (Read here - Khairy calon ‘pedigree’ meleset menjadi ‘under dog’?)
Nominations for the deputy Umno Youth chief in his home state of Negeri Sembilan - which is said to be solidly behind him - also went to Mukhriz.
To date, three divisions Rasah, Jelebu and Jempul in the state – have nominated Mukhriz to the post.
The Negri Sembilan results must sting for Khairy, the (in)famous son-in-law of Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi..
Mukhriz is also leading in Kedah, Terengganu, Sabah, Pahang, Penang and Johor.
However Mukhriz and Khairy received four nominations each from Perak
Khairy, who has a stronger standing in the rural divisions, seems to have a tough time in the urban division meetings where members are more informed and critical.
"In Setiawangsa, there were jeers from the floor when Khairy’s name was proposed and few were surprised when Mukhriz won with 53 votes against 29 for Dr Khir and 7 for Khairy. Khairy had an even tougher time in Johor although he secured three nominations there. In Tenggara, delegates shouted tak mahu! when his name was proposed. In Batu Pahat, he got only three votes compared to 95 for Khir and 186 for Mukhriz. That is the kind of scenario he is facing in some places." – Jocelyn tan – The Star Tuesday October 14, 2008
Despite the setback, however, Khairy is expected to obtain the nominations to contest the Umno polls next March.
Dr Mohd Khir is still in the running with 12 nominations up to now. He may finish third but is expected to make the cut.
Four of his nominations have come from his home state of Selangor, which also gave Mukhriz three nominations and Khairy one.
Dr Mohd Khir has obtained one nomination from Johor, Sabah and Penang respectively.
The fourth hopeful, Zahidi Zainul Abidin, has only one nomination - from his Padang Besar division in Perlis. He is likely to stay in the race to raise his national profile, even if nominations don’t come his way.