He's the MP previously known for his rebellious streak and home-made lasagne.
But on Tuesday John Barilaro – known as 'Barra' to all on Macquarie Street - is the favourite to become NSW's next deputy premier.
The NSW Premier is shocked by the result of the Orange by-election with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party likely to win the seat from the Nationals. Courtesy: ABC News 24.
It's quite a rise for a man who until a little more than five years ago was working on his door-and-window installation business in Queanbeyan, outside Canberra.
Mr Barilaro won his way onto the front bench in 2014, after being one of the most outspoken critics of the Baird government's electricity privatisation policy it successfully took to the 2015 election.
He was perhaps the most vociferous internal critic of the plan, saying it would only be legitimate if taken to a referendum.
But the promotion and the convention that frontbenchers fall in behind government policy kept him relatively quiet.
As the Minister for Skills and Training, Mr Barilaro has been the public face of the state government's highly controversial plan to admit more private companies into the TAFE sector.
Previously, the son of Italian migrants was perhaps best known for his mozzarella-parmesan lasagne. Mr Barilaro's wife, Deanna, praised his lasagne-making skills on television and he has boasted that his recipe is the product of 200 years' of family tradition when competing in a local charity cook off.
Mr Barilaro has used his frontbench position to build a profile. A leaked tender document showed that one adviser had ambitions to make him the fourth-most visible member of the government.
Rumours of Mr Barilaro's leadership aspirations have been circling for some time, but his closeness to the party's recently resigned leader, Troy Grant, has left him in an awkward spot.
Talk of his ascension sprung up most recently when dissatisfaction with the state government's plans to ban greyhound racing reached its peak within the Nationals' party room.
As an MP representing one of NSW's most marginal seats – Monaro, 2.5 per cent – Mr Barilaro was invoked as an example of who the party might lose if the public took out its anger at the ballot box.
He didn't criticise his leader, but he did remain conspicuously silent despite media reports he had his eye on the party leadership.
His was in a complicated situation. He was not only a long-time friend of Mr Grant, who was closely tied to the policy, they were about to become family, of sorts.
The weekend after the greyhound ban was dumped, the two appeared together in a show of unity but also for the occasion of the christening of Mr Barilaro's daughter. Mr Grant became her godfather.
But on Monday, and after a disastrous showing for the Nationals in a byelection in the seat of Orange, Mr Grant ended the speculation himself and fell on his sword.
That could leave Mr Barilaro with the rarest of things in politics: a clear path and clean hands.
This story first appeared in The Age on November 14.
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