Derek Cheng reports in the NZ Herald:
The Act Party is expected to open nominations for the crucial seat of Epsom today and former Auckland Mayor John Banks is “quietly confident” he has the inside running.
Mr Banks made it clear last night that he wanted to follow a proper process.
“I’m not looking for any easy ride to the line. If a high-quality candidate steps up to the plate, someone of outstanding ability, then I’m happy to step aside and support that person.”
Mr Banks has already had a huge endorsement from the party’s new leader, Don Brash.
If ACT get to even one third of the 15% they claim they can now get, then Epsom doesn’t matter to them. However if they fail to get 5%, then it is crucial to their survival. There are many interesting questions to be resolved.
- Will Banks win the nomination uncontested?
- Whom will National stand as their candidate. If it is local electorate chair Aaron Bhatnagar, then there could be a fascinating Bhatnagar v Banks contest.
- Who will Labour stand in Epsom?
- Will Labour supporters be urged to vote for their candidate or to vote strategically for Bhatnagar (or whomever is the National candidate)?
- Will National aim to win the seat back, on the basis of ACT claiming it will get 15%?
- Who will win if it is a full-on contest?
- If ACT do not get 5%, but Banks wins Epsom, will that make Banks more powerful than the Leader?
- If there is a National-led Government, one can only presume that Banks would be one of the ACT MPs made a Minister, considering his experience. So Boscawen and Roy might miss out.
Epsom is going to remain one of those must follow races.