Attorney General Mark Speakman, also a moderate, was believed to be weighing up a tilt at the top job.
Moderate powerbroker and former Liberal Minister Michael Photios was understood to be garnering support within partyroom for Mr Perrottet.
The moderate faction is made up of around 20 members, while there are about close to 10 in both the hard-right and centre-right factions and four to five MPs who are not aligned with a faction.
A moderate Liberal MP said divisions within the moderates occurring so quickly after Ms Berejiklian’s departure was evidence of her steadying influence over the faction for two decades.
“They’ve always had Gladys. She has been such a stabilising force for the mods so that is close to 20 years of stabilising influence,” they said.
“The best way to describe the moderates right now is and split, they’re all over the place. You’ve got three candidates running and the factional leader dealing with Perrottet, it’s not ideal.”
By Saturday afternoon, many within the partyroom were still rallying behind the treasurer. However, Mr Ayres, and Mr Stokes still had some support, though it was assumed many votes were being double counted.
“It’s the big dick syndrome. There is a lot of double counting going on. And people are relying on votes they don’t have,” another moderate MP said.
“The clear favourite is Perrottet. I’m quietly confident there won’t be a ballot on Tuesday. That said, it’s a democratic party and it’s great to have so many good quality candidates.”
Critical to moderate factional support for Mr Perrottet was an assurance he would commit to a conscience vote on voluntary assisted dying when Parliament resumes this month, which he is understood to have given on Saturday.
Former NSW minister Pru Goward, who was aligned with the centre-right faction, said she did not assume Mr Perrottet had secured total support to become premier.
“I mean, he’s been a great treasurer and is a great performer, but I’m saying in a state where the moderate faction is so dominant it would be extraordinary to me if he were just given it,” she told the ABC.
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