Sinn Féin in Donegal will decide next week if it will run three candidates in the new five-seat Donegal constituency at the next election.
Former Mayor of Donegal Cora Harvey is being tipped to stand as the third candidate alongside sitting TDs Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochalinn.
Political insiders say the Ballybofey woman has a real chance of taking a third seat for the party if she stands.
Pearse Doherty, the party’s finance spokesman, said party workers had been researching the possibility of running a third candidate.
Mr Mac Lochlainn is based in Inishowen and Mr Doherty is based in Gaoth Dobhair in the west of the county.
However, the party struggles for support in Letterkenny and it believes that a candidate from Finn Valley has the potential to win votes across east and mid-Donegal.
“Our research on the ground tells us that we have scope to take a third seat,” said Mr Doherty.
“I would be the first to admit that it is a strategy not without risk, particularly for myself and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, but we would be fairly confident that with proper vote management success can be achieved.
“We have formed a committee to look at suitable candidates and will meet in a week or two to discuss it.”
Ms Harvey announced that she was quitting politics in October 2013 and didn’t run for the county council last year. She cited family and work commitments as her reasons for standing down, but continues to work for the party.
However, party sources say that only a politician with her popularity is likely to succeed in the three-candidate strategy.
“Cora would be the ideal candidate because she worked so hard as a councillor in the Finn Valley and she is extremely popular with voters,” said one colleague.