The State shadow cabinet expressed “unanimous confidence” in Mr McGowan on Monday, a stance it reiterated following Tuesday morning’s caucus meeting.
Stephen Smith, the former Federal defence, foreign affairs and trade minister, announced last weekend his interest in taking the reins of the WA Labor leadership after reportedly being approached by a number of State MPs.
However, a statement released by WA Labor on Tuesday morning said the party supported Mr McGowan’s leadership “today and going forward” and called on Mr Smith to withdraw his challenge.
“(WA Labor) does not want Stephen Smith as leader of the State Parliamentary Labor Party (and) demands that Stephen Smith unconditionally withdraws his challenge and rules out becoming the State Labor leader,” the statement said.
Mr McGowan released his own statement via Facebook on Tuesday afternoon and said the challenge to his leadership would hold the party in good stead ahead of the election.
“The message is loud and clear; what the Labor Party and Western Australians want me to do is get on and win the next election,” he said.
“We have become an even stronger and united team over the past few days, make no mistake about that. And we’ve all got a single focus: holding the Barnett Liberal Government to account and defeating them at the next State election.”
In another blow to Mr Smith’s ambitions, Mr McGowan’s media adviser Reece Whitby was also endorsed on Tuesday as the party’s candidate to contest the new seat of Baldivis.
It was believed Mr Smith had his eye on the seat as a way into State politics.