I think NZ owes Bob a great deal of thanks for getting Winston out of Tauranga. Labour should thank him also because Winston would have caused far more trouble if he still held his seat and knew no matter what he and NZ First was safe. Having lost Tauranga, he has to worry about making 5% or face oblivion, so this has lessened the chance he’ll try and bring the Government down.
Simon Bridges has announced he is putting himself as the new candidate. Simon is one of the local Crown prosecutors, and in his own words:
Mr Bridges has been a prominent criminal lawyer in Tauranga for the past several years, specialising in jury trials.
Mr Bridges was educated in Law and Arts at the University of Auckland before completing a Masters in Law at Oxford University. He has been a long term National Party member and has held positions at senior levels in the Party. He lives in Mount Maunganui and is married to Natalie.
Simon is around 30 and highly respected and liked within National. He would be a long-term MP for Tauranga, rather than someone wanting just one final term before he becomes Ambassador to somewhere.
This gives Winston a dilemma. He has not yet announced where he is standing yet. Just as he hasn’t yet paid back the $158,000. Or explained where the money Dail Jones referred to last year came from. Or filed his donations return which was due on 30 April. But Winston claims Bob used his wealth to defeat him last election. Never mind a Court disagreed.
How bad a look will it be, for Winston to stand against Simon Bridges and lose? There would be no way to sugar coat that one.
It will be an interesting seat to watch. Simon may face others wanting the National nomination – but I would be surprised if he is not the candidate. He has been seen as a future MP since the conference in the late 90s where he stood for Youth Vice-President and gave a speech which one senior Minister labelled the best speech he had ever heard at a conference. People still talk about that speech today.