06/02/2015 01:53 EDT | Updated 06/02/2016 05:59 EDT

Fred DeLorey, Conservative Party Director, Seeking Peter MacKay's Seat

CBC News has learned that senior Conservative party organizer Fred DeLorey is hoping to fill the Central Nova nomination slot now left vacant by the surprise exit of Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

MacKay gave notice last week that he will not be running for re-election this fall.

Delorey was born in Nova Scotia, but has spent the last f‎ew years in Ottawa. He was an advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Atlantic Canadian issues before moving to the party's office, where he handled communications. Since 2013 he has served as director of political operations for the Conservative Party.

Central Nova has long been considered the closest thing ‎the Conservative Party has to a safe seat in the province.

Tory stronghold in peril?

Peter MacKay's father, Elmer MacKay, held the seat before Peter. The elder MacKay briefly stepped aside to give Brian Mulroney a safe place to run in a by-election when he was first chosen Progressive Conservative leader in 1983 and needed a seat.

MacKay won the seat with 57 per cent of the vote in 2011.

However, recent polls suggest Tories could be in for a strong challenge across Atlantic Canada, causing some to wonder if the lack of an incumbent could make Central Nova winnable for another party.

Central Nova Conservatives were not the only ones left scrambling for a candidate. That same day MacKay made his announcement. the Liberals nominated candidate in the riding, retired Canadian Forces veteran David MacLeod, revealed that he, too, would be exiting the race for personal reasons.

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