While debate is swirling over whether the Greens and Labour will lay a Privileges Committee complaint against the hapless, Peter Dunne, already the chatter around town is shifting to his electorate and who could take over.
We have heard that one of the reasons (Who is) Jo Coughlan had been interested in standing for Mayor was to build her profile with a view to National politics. For Coughlan, Ohariu appears like a natural fit and an opportunity that looks too good to miss. In many ways she would be an obvious choice for National, she is smart has solid business experience and is electable.
Of course, attaching herself to the National Party machinery and brand solves the big problem that was facing her possible Mayoral bid in that it offsets her lack of name recognition.
Coughlan is tribal National and would have no trouble gaining selection, in fact she could re-energise the local Party which hasn’t had much to cling to other than Chris Finlayson’s wit for many years. The current list MP based in Ohariu, Katrina Shanks, is a total non-starter as a long term option in the seat and has added absolutely no value since replacing Don Brash off the party list many moons ago.
Over in the red corner we understand Justin Lester is seriously considering putting his hat in the ring. Lester is completing his first term on Council representing the Northern Ward, but is probably better known for his fledgling chain of salad bars, Ka Pai. Undoubtedly, Lester and his business savvy would be a welcome addition to the Labour caucus which remains dominated by hack unionists and ex-Parliamentary staff.
Labour won the party vote in Ohariu (in its various forms) in 1999 and 2002 when the swing was with Labour and the previous candidate Charles Chauvel went close, however, this seat is a long shot for it in the short term. In a head to head between Labour and National, without a strong third party candidate, the advantage is with National. While Ohariu could provide the platform for the battle of the WCC councillors, Coughlan would almost certainly win the seat, which would leave Lester to fight for a Labour list spot – never an easy road to travel for a white, business owning male.
Lester doesn’t need to be in a rush though and could hold off standing in the seat until the swing does head back towards Labour and he is further entrenched as a local councillor.
But once again, it is decision time for Coughlan. Does she waste money on a futile Mayoral campaign that could lead to an embarrassing single-digit share of the vote? Or does she shift her attention to the much more likely and attractive goal of being the MP for Ohariu?
The clock is ticking, Coughlan can only keep saying she is happy being the Councillor for Onslow-Western for so long.