Sources within the National Party believe Christopher Luxon could be groomed for Paula Bennett’s Upper Harbour seat.
On Wednesday, Bennett announced she would not stand and would seek re-election though the party’s list after becoming the campaign chair for the 2020 General Election.
“Being campaign chair is a massive commitment and one I want to give 100 per cent of myself to; as such I won’t be seeking re-election as the MP for Upper Harbour but will be on the National Party’s List,” Bennett said.
“I have had tremendous support from the Upper Harbour Electorate and from the seat of Waitakere before that. I believe Upper Harbour deserves a candidate who is completely focused on them and being List only will allow me to run an energised, new look campaign that is focused on New Zealanders and their lives.”
In a recent One News Colmar Brunton poll, Luxon ranked at 1 per cent as the preferred prime minister. National leader Simon Bridges and National MP Judith Collins were on six per cent.
Bennett vacating the Upper Harbour seat opens the door for Luxon – and a number of National sources have told Stuff that this may eventuate.
When Bennett was approached, she would not comment on the speculation.
It has been widely rumoured that Luxon is planning to move to politics, potentially running for National in the Botany electorate.
However, it is understood that he is now not keen on this option because it could be a dirty campaign with Jami-Lee Ross.
There was also speculation that he was interested in the Selwyn electorate, which was newly created in 2007.
National MP Amy Adams has been the MP since 2008, where she enjoys the largest margin in the country but announced in June she will step down at the 2020 election.
The reason why Bennett’s seat is the most attractive option is that party rules would allow Luxon to be parachuted in by the National Party board rather then face a bruising selection process.
In an electorate with fewer than 200 members, the board screens nominations and puts forward members they believe are the best candidate and it is understood Upper Harbour fits this criteria.
If there are more than 200 members in an electorate, there would be a grassroots selection that would see members vote for the people they want to select as a candidate.
It is understood some members within the party would prefer Luxon, as an outsider, to go through this process in order to prove himself to the membership.
A National Party spokesman said the party did not comment on membership.
“We are always looking for good candidates and in the next while, people will come forward and the best possible people sought out and put forward for candidacy. That process will be concluded by the end fo the year.”