National and Labour make their Northcote byelection candidate picks today.
It's a foregone conclusion that National will win the seat, which is being contested following Jonathan Coleman's resignation.
A key point of interest was lost as National released its shortlist, revealing that "blue-green" candidate Vernon Tava had failed to make it to the final round, which will be contested this afternoon.
Mr Tava was a Green Party male co-leader contender in 2014. Earlier, political commentator Bryce Edwards speculated that his bid for the Northcote nomination could be the precursor to the formation of a blue-green party that would give National a fresh coalition option in 2020.
MMP conspiracy theorists could still see the episode as one of profile-raising and positioning for Mr Tava.
But in any case, he is out of the picture for now, and National's five candidates are:
- Dan Bidois: a former OECD economist and policy analyst who now works as a strategy and new ventures manager for Foodstuffs
- Danielle Grant: a marketing consultant and Kaipātiki Local Board deputy chairwoman
- Darren Ward
- Lisa Whyte: an accountant and Upper Harbour Board chairwoman
- Simon Watts: a CFO and previous UK investment banker who is now a local Northcote Point resident
- Shanan Halbert: head of relationships at the Te Wananga o Aotearoa polytech and Labour's Northcote candidate in 2017
- Richard Hills: placed a distant second for Labour as its Northcote candidate in 2014 but the prolific networker went on to win a North Shore ward seat on Auckland Council in 2016 – no mean feat for an openly gay, liberal candidate in a conservative part of the city
- Paul McGreal
While the Labour nominee will have no realistic chance, either Halbert or Hills will be looking to narrow National's majority in what will be inevitably seen as a referendum on Labor's first six months, and to bolster their chances of winning a high list position or safer seat in 2020.
The Greens have yet to decide if they will stand a candidate or give Labour a free run. The party will meet this week.
The Northcote byelection will be held on June 9.
It seems likely it will not be the last of this cycle. National leader Simon Bridges has indicated he expects one more electorate MP to resign before the end of this parliamentary term.
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