Sharkie considered running for the Liberals in the 2014 state election in the safe seat of Schubert, only to be told that she needed the blessing of federal minister Christopher Pyne and federal senator Cory Bernardi, the highest-ranking federal MPs from the moderate and conservative factions of the SA Liberals, before seeking preselection. Sharkie told The Australian that when she learned she couldn't stand without the "anointing" of Pyne and Bernardi, she was appalled. She asked, "Are you serious? A branch doesn't choose?" Combined with her anger at the "ditch the witch" campaign against Julia Gillard, she was thus very receptive when then-independent Senator Nick Xenophon announced he was forming his own party to stand candidates in the upcoming federal election. Initially serving as a volunteer for the newly-formed Nick Xenophon Team, she ultimately agreed to stand in Mayo. Although Mayo had been a very safe Liberal seat for most of its existence, polling suggested that if Labor directed its preferences to Sharkie, she could take the seat off the Liberals.