Shane Reti isn’t quaking in his boots, or even his jandals over claims that NZ First will seriously contest Whangarei at the next election.
NZ First Leader and Northland MP Winston Peters is targeting Whangarei for his party next election, but incumbent Shane Reti isn’t too worried.
Speaking at the start of the party’s annual conference in Dunedin at the weekend Mr Peters said Whangarei was ripe for the taking because of National MP Dr Reti’s low profile.
“Shane can walk down the main street of Whangarei and eight out of 10 people don’t recognise him. Now that’s a fact,” Mr Peters said.
Mr Peters, who captured Northland from National in a by-election in 2015 and has since put more campaigning focus on the regions, also named Whanganui as a possible target.
The rumour mill has it that former Labour List MP Shane Jones will stand for NZ First in Whangarei, but that has been shot down by Mr Peters who said he had not spoken to Mr Jones about standing.
However, his comments about Dr Reti have sparked a response, with the first-time MP for Whangarei saying Mr Peter’s comments can’t be true.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Dr Reti said.
“If you look at the last election we got every second vote in the party vote (18,503) and I got every second vote in the candidate vote (20,111). I was really honoured that it was the second-highest vote ever for the Whangarei electorate. NZ First can continue to do and say what it wants, but I’ll continue to work hard for the people of Whangarei … and create more jobs.”
He said the National Party was already preparing for the next election and if NZ First stood a candidate against him he would give that person the same respect he would any candidate wanting his seat.
NZ First List MP Pita Paraone stood in Whangarei last election and gained 2944 votes while NZ First got 4936 party votes. Mr Peters said his party’s candidates for electorates could be known by the end of this year.
Winning Whangarei of National would be difficult. The number aren’t insurmountable but Shane Jones would have to change the habits of a lifetime and actually have to do some hard work on the streets. Also, it isn’t a by-election so any comparisons with Northland are silly.
The main problem that Shane Jones faces is that Shane Reti is actually well liked in his electorate. Being a former GP there are many, many voters he has helped.
I think Shane Jones should look at tipping out Twyford in Te Atatu…there is certainly plenty of money sloshing around to see that happen.
– NZ Herald