MERSEYSIDE'S first US-style "primary" election takes place tonight.
Voters in Crosby, Formby and Maghull will choose their Tory candidate for the next general election.
Candidates Alf Doran, Debi Jones, Adrian Owens and Andrew Stephenson will discover their fate when the votes are counted at Crosby Civic Hall at 7pm tonight.
Usually, party hopefuls are chosen behind closed doors by party officials, but this system allows members of the public to vote, irrespective of their political allegiance.
The successful candidate will stand in a new seat known as Sefton Central, formed after the Crosby and Knowsley North constituencies are abolished.
Born in Liverpool, Alf Doran served as an officer with Merseyside Police for 18 years before his retirement in 1994.
He then joined the Tory Party and was elected as a councillor in Formby's Harington ward in 1996.
Cllr Doran gained a degree in organisation and management studies in 2002 and is studying for a masters in management development.
He is also working as an independent researcher for the National Centre for Social Research.
Cllr Doran said: "Having lived in the constituency since 1982, I am personally aware of many of the issues affecting the constituents and have campaigned successfully on many issues."
Debi Jones, who lives in Crosby with her husband Steve and daughter Ruth, has been a television and radio broadcaster for 20 years.
She unsuccessfully stood against Crosby Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas in the 2005 general election, but has since been elected a councillor in the town's Manor Ward.
She also specialises in media and image training for several blue chip companies.
She said: "I consider that I have been campaigning non-stop since I was selected last time in 2004.
"I continued campaigning to stand as a councillor in what used to be a predominantly Labour ward and won the seat with nearly 50% of the vote, which was the largest majority the ward had seen in almost 20 years.
"This has greatly encouraged me, along with the fact thata lot of Labour supporters have told me they would trust me with their vote."
Adrian Owens is a 40-year-old businessman from Newburgh, near Ormskirk. Married with children, he was born in Wirral and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge.
He has been a councillor with West Lancashire District Council since 1999 and finance portfolio holder in the cabinet since 2002.
Cllr Owens, who is a practising Christian, runs a consultancy firm helping small businesses with health, safety and environmental matters.
He previously ran Create, a social enterprise in Speke aimed at training the long-term unemployed. He also carries out voluntary work for the Prince's Trust.
Among his priorities are longer prison terms, a strengthening of family values and pro-life policies on abortions.
Cllr Owens said: "I see myself as a local candidate as I live in West Lancashire, and I would be looking to move into the constituency if I was elected.
"I would bring the constituency together rather than have a strong base in Crosby or Formby. We mustn't forget that Maghull will be part of the constituency, so it is important to unify it."
The youngest candidate, Andrew Stephenson, 25, is a partner in a Manchester firm of insurance brokers.
He became a Macclesfield councillor in 2003, and is now chairman of housing policy development.
He is a former deputy chairman of the party's Youth Wing and one of the youngest councillors in the country.
Cllr Stephenson has been involved in a number of youth projects, including a successful campaign to build a skate park.
He is also chairman of Tatton Conservative Association, working closely with Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, and is an area officer for the Tories in Cheshire and Wirral.
Primaries are a common feature in American politics, and get the most attention in the run-up to mid-term and Congressional elections.
There are two main types of primaries - open and closed. In open primaries, like the election in Crosby, voters of all party allegiances can participate. In closed primaries, only registered members of a party can vote.