Over 150 delegates and observers attended the National Party Northland Electorate Candidate Selection Meeting yesterday where 47 YO Matt King, ex police detective, farmer and businessman from Okaihau won the nomination on the first ballot defeating Dr Chris Reid and Ken Rintoul.
This selection meeting was a tad different given the number of new and young faces among the voting delegates. It was a pleasure to meet up with some of them at the after-match function. They included farmers, policemen, a prison officer, health professionals and educators. The face of the National Party in Northland is changing led by their dynamic (and young) Electorate Chair, Rose Ellis.
Matt is Northland through and through. Family man; rugby representative player and current referee; volunteer fireman, Board member of NZ Polocrosse. Yesterday he committed himself to an eleven month, full-time campaign, stating now ... small problem ... NZ First ... the whispers round the traps is that the current MP is wimping out. At the time of the by-election he campaigned on the basis of 'give me a go' ... 'judge me on results' ... and, if I fail to achieve what I promised ... 'throw me out'.
What are those results ... apart from establishing five electorate offices (nearly always closed and raiding his 'leaders' budget in order to do that) it's really a big fat zero. His promises ... free ferry trips for the 65> ... fail; sort out the Mangawhai Sewage Scheme debacle ... fail. Then there's his no show at events scheduled to attend and his continued thumbing of his nose at Northland by continuing to live in Auckland.
My prediction is that the carpetbagger par excellence will cut and run citing the need for him to campaign nationally. Willow Jean Prime, the well regarded Labour candidate, hungry to be in Parliament, will be looking to pick up the 'grumpy' vote and, unlike last time, my prediction is that run an effective campaign given that her chances of making it on the List ain't great. Add to that it's difficult to see the Greens not standing a candidate with one of their MPs resident in the electorate and the electoral dynamic changes. Gonna be an interesting few months and, for Matt, the seat is for taking with nothing taken for-granted.