Barnaby Joyce was not the popular choice at the final Meet the Candidates Forum held at the Armidale City Bowling Club on Thursday night, and Adam Blakester certainly presented as a credible Independent candidate to an audience that gave him the large majority of their applause.
The forum was attended by about 300 people and Mr Joyce later said it was a "tougher crowd". It came on the back of the Tamworth Business Chamber's recent candidate debate exit poll that gave Mr Joyce 46.4 per cent of the vote and Mr Blakester 43.1 per cent, however those figures were from a small sample and may not be reliable.
Mr Joyce said he had a duty to present himself at the forums.
"My style of politics is a lot more pragmatic and I try to focus on local delivery, rather than the overall architecture of more global or national plans," he said.
"I know there was an intense interest in global warming politics and my view is we can't throw people under the bus in dealing with it, and [we need] to focus on local delivery. "
"On the next step for teh APVMA in Armidale and on further deliveries out into the communities. The tangible things that I'm asked to pursue when people come to my office."
Mr Joyce said the region needed to retain the APVMA and asked even those who couldn't stand him to write to Joel Fitzgibbon to demand the department be kept in Armidale.
"Please don't ditch the APVMA. Look, it's bringing in a lot of people who will not vote for me, so if you want to get rid of me, keep it," he quipped.
Independent candidate Adam Blakester said he was happy with the meeting and thought it was a fantastic night.
"I think it was a good forum. The one thing we need that we haven't had is probably more debate between some of the candidates," he said.
"There are questions that have been left lingering in the air, [but] whether there is an opportunity to do that between now and voting day I am not sure. I can't see how it is going to happen.
"I got the impression there was an odd man out here tonight, and it was the incumbent. There were clear murmurs in response to renewable energy, some of the women's issues, we skirted around questions about the Murray Darling and water buybacks. Those are some of the still lingering questions."
Mr Blakester said he thought they were issues that probably would not be resolved until Australia had a Federal ICAC and perhaps a Royal Commission on water.
"I think these issues are at the centre of what this election is all about. They are heavy and they are big issues, but we need to see them progressed if not addressed coming out of this election," Mr Blakester said.