Nominations are now closed. There are five candidates that are going through to pre-selection. It is probably fair to say that they all will get through, even if there is a blood feud between Scott Simpson and Peter Goodfellow. Peter being useless won’t be able to blackball Scott in the manner of that an adept and nasty president like Michelle Boag would have been able to.
While all candidates should go through to selection, if I was running the reference checks I would take a very careful look at John Kirikiri and Brent Robinson. These candidates need some questions asked of them, perhaps in the pre-selection meeting especially about previous employment and the circumstances surrounding their departure.
Being beaten by a 25 year old poseur in a council race is unfortunately not a good look for John, who is one of the most engaging and likable guys I have run into in politics. Brent also requires careful scrutiny for why he left his previous employment even though he appears to have been successful in winning government contracts and sucking off the public teat in his present firm.
Despite the reservations about Brent he is a clear front runner, having done the hard yards in the electorate over a number of years. He needs to convince delegates his service is also backed up with merit and he offers something more than being a second rater permanently sucking off the public teat, with a long career in one of the safest blue seats in the country.
Scott Simpson, as mentioned previously, is a mate of mine, and I have known Scott for years. If he were running in his home turf of Tamaki I would be backing him, but I am not sure he hasnâ€™t left his run for parliament too late. Scott is a year older than Maggie Barry, and the National Party seem to have some silly ageist rule about selecting candidates.
Scottâ€™s other problem is there are few shitfights in the National Party that Scott hasnâ€™t been in the thick of, even when they werenâ€™t fights he needed to be involved with. He will have to convince delegates they need a scrapper and an outsider to represent them, as well as avoid the interference expected from the President.
Chris Penk may make it as an MP one day, but he needs to build his CV and work out how to appeal to the broad, largely secular church that is modern New Zealand.
Mark Mitchell has a strong track record, and from what I have been told is an engaging and friendly guy with a lot of family in Rodney. He grew up in Rodney, went to school in Rodney and worked in Rodney so he is not a total carpet bagger like Maggie Barry. He is a decorated police officer, and not just medals for service. Since leaving the police he has had an interesting career in Kuwait involved in managing big private security firms. His involvement in providing security and safety for the two major ports in Iraq, working closely with both the Pentagon and State Department and ongoing negotiations to solve the Somali pirate problem mean he is no second rater and delegates should carefully consider him even if they do not know him as well as they know Brent.
If I were a delegate I would want to ask Brent about his previous career moves. Mark I would ask about whether he was willing to do the boring work on the backbenches after years of running big organisations and being able to affect real change and make decisions quickly. John I would ask if he wanted to go down to the pub for a beer as he has a fund of great stories. Scott I would ask why he isnâ€™t running against Peachey in Tamaki, and Chris I would ask if he would like to meet some nice, christian women looking for a husband.