Chris Minns needs to become NSW Labor leader if the party is to defeat Gladys Berejiklian's Coalition government at the 2023 state election.
That's the view of Dubbo Labor councillor and two-time state election candidate Stephen Lawrence, who announced he was backing Mr Minns to become NSW Labor leader on Monday.
As part of a new process in which Labor members and politicians get to pick the leader of the party following the party's state election defeat in March, Mr Minns and Jodie McKay are battling it out for votes in a leadership poll expected to be concluded by the end of June.
Mr Minns is a former government and Labor staffer, while Ms McKay worked as a television journalist and was a minister in the last disgraced NSW Labor government. Both reside in Sydney.
Mr Lawrence said Mr Minns visited Dubbo earlier in the year to discuss water issues.
"He spent two days here and met a range of community members," Mr Lawrence said.
"Chris was able to converse with them intelligently, but most importantly authentically.
"Chris is not someone who pretends to be something he's not.
"He didn't come out here to Dubbo and put on an Akubra and pretend to be a cockie.
"What you see is what you get."
Mr Lawrence said Mr Minns is "highly intelligent" and could connect with voters who may not be inclined to support Labor.
"The key challenge is to convince voters through actual policies that we govern for everybody statewide, including people in country towns," he said.
"They key going forward is to develop a suite of infrastructure and economic policies that show country people we are also the party of growth and most importantly, the decentralisation of economy and government."
Mr Lawrence said because Mr Minns was elected to parliament in 2015 " he is truly part of a new generation".
"If he [Mr Minns] gets to be leader it will be on pure merit and he will be a forward thinking, inspiring Labor leader," Mr Lawrence said.