It cannot have been an easy few days for Simon Coveney, as he watched the Varadkar juggernaut build up a landslide of support in the parliamentary party.
The blitzkrieg tactics of Varadkar’s campaign – which saw 44 per cent of all available votes hoovered up by the Minister for Social Protection by the time of his campaign launch on Saturday – have effectively ended the contest to succeed Enda Kenny.
Unsurprisingly, some supporters of the Minister for Housing are pushing for him to withdraw, but Coveney has decided to fight on.
That he should choose to do so is not a shock. Only last night he said he wanted to see the whole campaign through, stressing the need for party members to have their say on the leadership question.
At his campaign launch on Saturday morning, Varadkar implied there would be a place in his Cabinet for Coveney, but did not offer similar reassurances for others such as Simon Harris, Coveney’s most senior supporter.
As with all leadership contests or heaves, there is more than just the candidates’ careers in the balance.
Ministers and TDs choose sides in the knowledge that, if they lose, their careers could be at the mercy of a leader who owes them nothing.
This bald political fact has been acknowledged by those who fell foul of it in the past.
During the 2010 attempted coup against Enda Kenny, then Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten said he and others were putting their “political careers on the line” by trying to oust the leader.
In victory, Kenny was forgiving to some, such as Coveney and Varadkar, but showed no mercy to others, such as Naughten, who is now an Independent TD.
The current contest is clearly a different affair to the 2010 heave, but the same principles apply: careers are on the line.
Of the differing views within the Coveney campaign on whether to press on with the contest, one figure claimed there were “people trying to save themselves” and that others were attempting to “ride two horses”.
Those closest to Coveney are understood to be firmly of the view that this race should continue and that party members and councillors should be allowed have their say.
Paradoxically, it could be of benefit to Varadkar and the party if Coveney continues in the race. It will allow the expected new leader to be tested in debates and introduce himself and his ideas to the party membership and public.
Whether it will help those who have tied their careers to Coveney’s star is another matter.